Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to identify strategic objectives that can be utilized by non-host communities to leverage the opportunities provided by mega sport events. The unique context and timing of this study facilitates discussion surrounding a particular non-host community and how it can plan relevant objectives to best identify appropriate leveraging mechanisms. Design/methodology/approach: The study adopted a qualitative approach, drawing upon a case study of Kobe City, Japan, a non-host city of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Data were collected using diverse sources such as site visits, field notes, newspaper articles, destination marketing materials, archival data from sport and tourism facilities, and workshop with key stakeholders. Findings: The within-case analysis identified four key objectives a non-host city could utilize to leverage mega sport events, namely, enhancing destination brand equity, integrating leveraging strategies with the existing event portfolio, fostering social capital, and strengthening corporate networks. Originality/value: Research on event leveraging has typically focused on host cities, while there has been limited research attention on non-host cities. This paper highlights the importance of formulating shared objectives so as to provide a strong focus for relevant stakeholders, guide the deployment of resources, and create effective leveraging strategies. Few studies have focused on the planning of leveraging initiatives.