Although an increasing number of nations invest large amounts of money in sport in order to compete against other nations, there is no clear evidence that demonstrates how sports policies can influence international sporting success. This paper provides an overview of important determinants that can lead to nations enjoying international sporting success. The literature reveals that more than 50% of the determinants of success are macro-level variables which are beyond the control of politicians. The meso-level contains factors which can be influenced by sports policies. An empirically founded theory on the policy factors that determine elite sporting success has not yet been developed. In this paper a conceptual framework will be presented that can be used for making trans national comparisons of elite sports policies. Nine policy areas, or ‘pillars’ that are thought to have an important influence on international sporting success are logically derived from the literature.
Key words: (top-level) sports policies – international sporting success – international comparison – benchmark