The Worlds Greatest Sporting Event Architecture Essay

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Since the revival of the Olympics at the end of the nineteenth century, the Olympic Game has emerged as the world's greatest sporting event. Its scale and significance creates major challenges and opportunities for the organization and infrastructure of host cities.

The increased size of the Games has produced implications for host cities that extend well beyond the provision of sporting facilities and the organization of the event for the athletes. Investment in supporting infrastructure, such as extra and/or improved airport capacity, hotel accommodation, public transport, water and sewage systems and urban landscaping, has also been required to ensure the effective operation of the Games and that the best possible image of the host city is presented to the international audience. Across the century, therefore, the Games has developed into much more than a sporting competition. For the main participating nations, it has become a quest for national prestige and, for the host city, it is now both a means of achieving international reputation and an instrument for promoting physical and economic regeneration. For urban planners and policy-makers, the Games has come to represent a major opportunity for infrastructural investment and environmental improvement.

The aim of this paper is to explain the benefits which cities can accumulate by hosting the Games, trace and illustrate the changing nature and scale of the impact of the Games on the urban environment and its creasing role as an agent of urban policy.


In coming up with the research framework for this paper, I have identified the issues which will be the analysis focus in generating the research findings. The issues identified are:

  • Does the urbanization occur only in the cities?
  • How does financial support this development?
  • Does the event help the economy of the host cities?
  • What is the impact on the architecture?
  • What is the impact to society?


The purpose of this case study is to present the reader with an insight of the role of Olympic Games in catalyzing urban development in the host cities and the effects and impact towards the economy and society. The objectives to be achieved in this research are:

  • To identify the major infrastructures introduced to host the Olympic Games in the cities.
  • To study the impact of these infrastructures on the economy of the host cities.
  • To identify the impact of urbanization to the society.
  • To highlight the urban transformation that has taken place in previous host cities for the Olympic Games.


The Impacts of Mega Events

Many studies have concentrated on the impact of Mega-Events, and most of them are done by the principle organization bodies to conclude the events. The research mainly focused on two aspects: economic impacts which are measured in financial terms and the intangible social impact which are captured by surveys.

For all range of mega-events, a routine method of the economic impact is to measure the cost and benefit in monetary terms. Use Olympic Games as an example: in general, the "cost" of the game includes the organizational expenditures (those for aspects not usable after the event) and project expenditures (those usable after the event). The organizational expenditures were the true "cost", the net cost, of which nothing would remain afterwards (Brunet, 1995). Revenue of the Games, on the other hand, can be generated through many sources such as sponsorships, bidding on television rights, ticket sales and expenditures by visitors.

Other changes brought by events can be categorized into two kinds: tangible and intangible. The tangible impacts denote the visible, physical changes in the host cities: almost all mega events require new constructions or expansion of existing facilities at some degree.

The intangible benefit a host can have is brought by media's powerful global coverage: by broadcasting events, the host city has also been put under the spotlight and has the chance to present itself to the world. Evidently, for a city, the motivation of hosting a mega-event does not only rely on the short term monetary benefit, but it also hopes to create positive international awareness of the city in the post-event period.

The topics of Mega-events and Olympic Games are closely related and often been studied together. The sporting competition has always been universal, and in the recent years the public interest in international sporting events such as Olympic Games increased to some extent that has tended to eclipse and overshadow part of the traditional role of commercial fairs and exhibitions (Chalkley & Essex, 1999). Since 1896, the Games were revived as a tradition sport competition event which takes place every four years, and in recent decades it has developed into an international social event which brings huge impact to hosting communities: it represents opportunities for economical regeneration, infrastructural investment, environmental improvement, as well as a mean to achieve international prominence and national prestige through "Place Marketing"(Chalkley & Essex, 2005).

The main benefit of hosting Olympic Games comes from the emerging power of international media network. For a typical Olympic Game hosting city, out of all its income sources, the sponsorship and selling of TV right make up the bigger portions because the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has a television policy to ensure maximum presentation of the Games to the widest possible audience free of charge, and sponsors and media companies are willing to pay high bidding to have this great opportunities to be exposed to the world audience (Preuss, 2002). The principle spectators of any modern Olympic Games are in front of televisions; as a consequence, the hosting city becomes well-known to the world, and its name is often mentioned in pair with "Olympic Games".

However, there are many more aspects to be considered when a city decides to be nominated as a hosting city. For the various stakeholders, hosting such an event in their city can be interpreted in different ways: for the policy makers, the priority is to increase the capacity of public transportation and influence the city's security system; for the urban planners, it is an opportunity for infrastructure investment and environmental improvement; for the local residents, they feel proud of their city but also hassled by the pre-game constructions and huge volume of visitor flows during the game. Later in the paper, I will look into the cities involved as a case study on how it balanced these issues by city regeneration.

The History of Olympic Games

The origin of Olympic Games can be traced back to the Ancient Greece time. Between 776 BC and 261 AD, the Olympic Games were staged as a five-day event with the competition of running, wrestling, horse racing, chariot race and pentathlon. Centuries later, different series of "Olympic Games" were revived and staged at various places in England.

It was not until 1890, when a French Nobleman Baron Pierre de Coubertin (1863 - 1937) visited Dr. Brookes, who was the organizer of the "second series" of the Games, that an ambition of reviving the modern Olympic games was born. De Coubertin believed physical exercise is the basis of a balanced education and organizing sports events is an agent that establishes international unity and social equality. His idea of reviving the ancient Olympic game received enormous support from the Sports Congress at Sorbonne. The modern Olympic Games were to be held every four years in different cities to serve the goal of promoting the Olympic spirit of freedom, progress and equality throughout the world (Grupe, 1999).

The original objectives and principle that De Coubertin established are still the core values of Olympics Games nowadays:

  • Fostering the goals of competitive sports.
  • Providing a legacy of facilities that will stimulate athletic development which would not have been possible with inferior facilities.
  • Heightening the profile of the sports involved by providing better opportunities for training as well as site for national and international competition (Hall, 1997).

From the statement of De Coubertin, it is not hard to imagine that in the early period most cities lacked sufficient sport facilities for athletes and Olympic Games also served as an occasion for hosting cities to build or upgrade sport venue and training sites. However, the implication of construction for Olympics has changed over the past century: from necessity to luxury.

Venue Construction of Modern Olympic Games

As the owner of Olympic Games, International Olympic Committee (IOC)'s role is to promote top-level sport as well as sport for everybody in accordance with the Olympic Charter. In the Charter, it states the mandatory requirements such as all sports competition, the Opening and Closing Ceremonies must take place in the host city and IOC executive board holds the exclusive right on approvals of venue sites. However, it does not provide much detail on the construction guidelines. Petros Synadinos, an architecture planner from the Greece National Olympic Committee pointed out that the post Olympic use of the construction projects is the key to success thus extending the legacy of the Games. As he suggested, in order to achieve this goal, the urban planners of the host city should take these issues into consideration (Synadinos, 2002):

  • Good functional and balanced public network, including transportation, communication, aesthetic, and environment
  • Inclusion of all buildings to be constructed for the Olympic games in a flexible structure so in the post-Olympic period it will not only incorporate the new buildings into the everyday functions for its residents, but will also provide for their use to serve as a central social center for the surrounding area

For the several recent games, the bidding cities have layout plans for bigger construction works to prove their capability of hosting Olympic Games. However, it was not the usual norm of Olympic until the 60's. Historically, the impact on the city's infrastructure improvement and investment can be divided into four phases (Chalkley & Essex, 2004):

Phase One: 1896 - 1904

Games: 1896 Athens, 1900 Paris, 1904 St. Louis

Features: Small scale, poorly organized and not necessarily involving any new development

Phase Two: 1908 - 1932

Games: 1908 London, 1912 Stockholm, 1920 Antwerp, 1924 Paris, 1928 Amsterdam, 1932 Los Angeles

Features: Small Scale, better-organized and involving construction of purpose-built sports facilities

Phase Three: 1936 - 1956

Games: 1936 Berlin, 1948 London, 1952 Helsinki, 1956 Melbourne

Features: Large Scale, well-organized and involving construction of purpose built-sport facilities with some impact on urban infrastructure

Phase Four: 1960 - 2000

Games: 1960 Rome, 1964 Tokyo, 1968 Mexico City, 1972 Munich, 1976 Montreal, 1980

Moscow, 1984 Los Angeles, 1988 Seoul, 1992 Barcelona, 1996 Atlanta, 2000 Sydney

Features: Large Scale, well-organized and involving construction of purpose-built sports facilities with significant impact on urban infrastructure

The size of participants flowing into the city grows: for example, during a typical Summer Games, about 10,000 athletes, 10,000 officials, and 20,000 journalists and media representatives need to be accommodated in the Olympic village, not to mention a large number of visitors coming into the city. To accompany the needs of this-short term accommodation and supporting infrastructures, temporary or permanent constructions are raised for the Games. However, to avoid waste resource after the Games, a city planner needs to learn lessons from previous games and plan carefully with the consideration of utilizing constructions for the post-game period.


The Barcelona Games (1992)

The key to the success of the Barcelona Games (Samaranch, 1992) lies in the strength of the objectives (organizational excellence and urban impact), the inter-institutional consensus , the use of special management bodies , mixed private-public funding models , and also the successful harnessing of the Olympic impetus and attracting of investments. The Games have been the catalyst for improvements in the general infrastructure of the metropolitan area and for large scale planning projects which will alter the shape of the growth of the city.

Construction work for the Barcelona Games

Given the Barcelona'92 objectives, a vast amount of construction work was required, and much more was also indirectly generated, most of the latter not being directly necessary for the holding of the Games. This is one of the aims of candidate host cities: to generate construction of as much infrastructure and facilities as possible which will serve the city in the aftermath of the event itself.

The major Olympic construction involves works such as opening up the sea front to the city, restoring the historical buildings in Gothic Quarters and on Montjuic Mountain and building the ring roads around the metropolitan area. Some famous Architects were even invited to design new projects: Calatrava for the Montjuic Telecommunications Tower; Gregotti for the reconstruction of the Montjuic Stadium; Pei for the International Trade Centre at the port; and Isozaki for the Palau San Jordi gymnasium.

Many projects needed to be completed prior to the Games; however, the majority of them were not directly used for the Games. Barcelona has planned the projects strategically so the maximum number of useful investment can be left behind after the Games. The Principal Olympic projects imposed a structural effect on the city, and their classes were as follows, in the order of importance (Brunet, 1995):

  1. Roads and transportation infrastructures
  2. Housing, office, and commercial venues
  3. Telecommunications and services
  4. Hotel facilities
  5. Sports facilities
  6. Environmental infrastructures

There are also other accompanying facilities of Olympic such as hotels, restaurants, and entertainment centers which were promoted and invested by private parties. The Private projects made up to 37.2% of the Olympic projects (Brunet, lbid), and they were mainly involved in the following areas:

  1. Housing
  2. Hotels
  3. Entrepreneurial centre
  4. Toll motorways

Most of the major projects have long-lasting impact on Barcelona, even into the years of post-Olympic period. Several examples will be discussed in details:

Vila Olimpica and the Sea Front

The Olympic village was developed on a 130 hectares site at Parc de Mar, which was the most transformed site preparing for Olympic 1992 (Barcelona NOC, 1992). It was built by the Barcelona Holding Olimpic, S.A. (HOLSA), a matrix company also involved in the construction in the Olympic Ring.

Before the game, the land was occupied as industrial land, and it was separated from the rest of the city. There were two railway lines connecting the site to the city primary for shipping use.

The Olympics provided an opportunity to re-develop the area which involves reconstructing the railway network, building a costal ring road, developing the Olympic village and Olympic Harbour and reconstructing the sewage system.

The district was eventually opened up to Barcelona inhabitants and with an easy access to its 5.2 km coastline. Nowadays the new beaches and waterfront facilities have transformed the landscape and become a new leisure attraction for both locals and visitors.

The whole series of regenerating the coastline in the early 90's not only sufficiently provided the necessary infrastructures for the Olympic Games, but also created a continuing force to redefine the city in a bigger content.

Ring Road

As the top priority of the city upgrading plan, the construction of the ring road of Barcelona aimed to improve its existing road system so to facilitate the increase traffic flow during the Games. Large amount of public funds have been invested in modification in the road network. It is the key roads to move around the circumference of Barcelona.

After opening of the Dalt and Litoral ring road in the Olympics period, the immediate effect on the city was the increased circulation of motor vehicles which was evidently shown by the comparison of traffic density in 1990 and in 1993(Brunet).

The Olympic Ring

Prepared for the Olympic 1992, the extensive area of Montjuic hill has been renewed and was given a new identity "The Olympic Ring". The constructions include: The Stadium and the acclimatization garden which were used for the Universal Exposition 1929 was rebuilt; the façade and the Picornell Swimming pool which were built in 1969 were renewed to meet modern guidelines. Two additional brand-new buildings were constructed: the Sant Jordi Sports Hall by Arata Isozaki, and the National Institute of Physical Education of Catalonia (Barcelona City Council, 2005).

The Impact of the Barcelona Games

The impact of the city's nomination as Olympic host city was immediate: unemployment underwent a dramatic fall, the housing market came back to life and, of course, the construction industry underwent a boom (Brunet, 1995).

However, one decade later, it is surprising to find that this expansive trend continues: 1993 was worse than 1992 - as it was in the entire region and indeed in all of Western Europe; however, every year since has seen new growth records on all indicators: employment, investment, income, attractiveness, etc. Not only did Barcelona react well to the Games, it succeeded in maintaining the growth generated, on a scale never seen before.

The impact of Barcelona Olympic 1992 can be divided as economic and non-economic. Economic Impacts are mainly from construction projects realized for the Games. The induced impact is the largest portion among the overall impact and it started as counted from five years prior to the Games year, since constructions need time (Brunet, Ibid). The following table shows the brief categories of the economic impacts and their distributions in percentage.

However, the economic impact is not the priority for host cities. Barcelona succeeded in "marketing itself" through Olympic '92: a survey which took place in 1992 showed that visitors gave the city high evaluation, especially for the Olympic events, the Olympic atmosphere, Olympic facilities and Olympic signage (Brunet, 1993). The survey also captured a strong preference of investors willing to locate in Barcelona due to the city's availability of services and labor, its market and the overall competitiveness.

Another achievement which is worth noting is that Barcelona's dedication to Architecture was recognized by the professional industry by receiving the Royal Gold Medal in 1999 which was awarded by the Royal Institute of British Architects. Since 1848, the medallion has been rewarded to individuals whom had outstanding services to architecture, and the precedent was broken for the first time to award the medal to a city instead of an individual.

The Barcelona Games of 1992 is probably the best example of the role of the Olympics as a catalyst for urban change and renewal. The city's traditional economic base in engineering and other forms of manufacturing had been seriously damaged during the 1970s and 1980s by periods of world economic recession, restructuring and the effects of global competition. Major urban improvement programmes were therefore undertaken in order to underline the city's claim for a place on the 'global cities' network' (Sanchez, 1992). As the capital of Catalonia, Barcelona was also keen to promote Catalan identity and to assert its importance relative to Madrid, the Spanish national capital.

The Atlanta Centennial Games (1996)

The 1996 Summer Olympics of Atlanta, officially known as the Games of the XXVI Olympiad and unofficially known as the Centennial Olympics, were an international multi-sport event which was celebrated in 1996 in Atlanta, Georgia, United States.

The 1996 Atlanta Centennial Olympic Games drew more attendees than any prior Olympic Games, created a $5 billion economic impact and branded Atlanta to 70 percent of the world's population as a great place to do business. Ten years later, Atlanta is still being transformed by an Olympic legacy that changed the face of downtown Atlanta, strengthened the city's reputation as a hub of global commerce and positioned Atlanta as the sports capital of the world.

Infrastructures that changed Atlanta

In the 10 years following the Atlanta Olympic Games, more than $1.8 billion in hotels, office buildings, high-rise residential buildings and entertainment venues have risen in downtown Atlanta.

The catalyst for nearly all of that growth is the 21-acre Centennial Olympic Park, which transformed a blighted area between the Georgia World Congress Center and Atlanta's hotel district into a thriving business and tourism epicenter.

Centennial Olympic Park

The $57 million, privately funded park became a nucleus for development and redirected the heart of Atlanta's central business district to this point. The 21-acre park marks the largest urban green space constructed in the United States in more than 25 years, created out of a 10-block blighted industrial district. The park continues to be an economic catalyst for more than 8,000 lofts and condominiums that have been built since 1996. Centennial Park West, The Glenn Hotel, Georgia Aquarium, The World of Coca-Cola, Imagine It! The Children's Museum of Atlanta, Ivan Allen Plaza and Philips Arena are a few of the many developments that have taken advantage of the beauty and international popularity of Centennial Olympic Park.

Turner Field

Converted from the 80,000-seat Olympic Stadium, Turner Field has been home to the Atlanta Braves since 1997. The 50,000-seat baseball-only facility hosted the 2000 Major League Baseball All-Star Game and has seen its fair share of playoff games and World Series action.

Philips Arena

The $213 million Philips Arena created a new entertainment destination filled with restaurants and shops, which bridged together the CNN Center/OMNI Hotel, the Georgia World Congress Center and the Georgia Dome. Home to the Hawks, Thrashers and Force, the arena was built in 1999 and seats 18,000 for basketball, hockey and Arena Football. The arena hosted the 2003 NBA All-Star Game and will host the 2008 NHL All-Star Game.

Georgia Dome

Opened in 1992, the Georgia Dome ranks among the nation's best indoor sports facilities and is the largest dome of its kind in the world. Home to the Atlanta Falcons, the Chick-fil-A Bowl, the Southeastern Conference Football Championship and the Bank of America Atlanta Football Classic, the Dome seats 71,500. The Georgia Dome also has hosted Super Bowls XXVIII and XXXIV, the NCAA Men's and Women's Final Fours, the Atlantic Coast Conference and Southeastern Conference basketball tournaments, motocross and major concerts.

Residential Development

The conversion of commercial buildings into living spaces attracted thousands of new residents to downtown and fostered mixed-use re-development among historic buildings. New dormitories built to house the 10,000 Olympic athletes now provide much-needed housing for students at Georgia Tech and Georgia State University.

Commercial Development

Since 1996, developers have invested more than $480 million in projects downtown, and several hundred million dollars in new development will occur in the area over the next several years. Between 2003 and 2004, downtown added 23,485 jobs, an increase of 22 percent, while the job growth in the City of Atlanta as a whole was 14 percent during the same time period. (Source: ARC). In 2005, two bonds totaling more than $130 million were issued to subsidize development costs in downtown and generated more than $800 million in new developments to be built in downtown in the next two years.

Improved Hotel Capacity

6,000 new hotel rooms were added in 1996, increasing metro Atlanta's hotel capacity by 9.3 percent. The hotel industry has continued to thrive. In 2005 and 2006 alone, 12 Atlanta hotels are expected to spend $205 million in makeovers.

Sidewalks and Green Space

According to the U.S. Forest Service, Atlanta is the most heavily wooded urban area in the nation. To make the city even greener for the Olympic Games, Trees Atlanta and the Georgia Department of Transportation planted trees in Georgia parks and along thoroughfares and highways. Nearly 2,000 were planted in downtown Atlanta alone. In addition to Centennial Olympic Park, several urban parks in metro Atlanta were redeveloped to enhance the city's quality of life. More than $500 million was invested in new facilities, landscaped plazas and promenades in preparation for the Olympic Games.

Ambassador Force

The Ambassador Force (A-Force), a 60-person squad that patrols the 200-block downtown Atlanta area, was made famous during the 1996 Olympic Games. The A-Force is unarmed and funded by a voluntary tax paid by 400 downtown businesses and property owners. As a result of their work with the eight downtown certified law enforcement jurisdictions, today crime in downtown accounts for only 8 percent of the city's overall total. Members of the A-Force can still be seen answering questions for pedestrians and passing cars, providing directions to tourists and newcomers and providing direct links to Atlanta police via radio.

Telecommunications & Highway Infrastructure

In preparation for the Olympic Games, Atlanta's telecommunications infrastructure took a giant leap forward to prepare for worldwide broadcast communications. More than 400,000 miles of advanced fiber-optic cable was installed and BellSouth successfully met the challenge of more than 1 million extra minutes of cellular transmissions daily due to the Olympic Games. Highways and roads were also widened and HOV lanes created.

The Impact of the Centennial Games on Atlanta

Despite the special significance of the Centennial Games of 1996, Atlanta's preparations were mainly focused on new sporting facilities and produced only relatively minor changes in the city's wider infrastructure and environment.

Atlanta, like Los Angeles in 1984, was determined that the Games should be a commercial success and that public-sector involvement should be tightly constrained. The centerpiece of the Games was the Olympic Stadium (capacity of 85 000) constructed especially for the event with private finance. After the Games, it was converted to a 45 000-48 000 seat baseball park for use by the Atlanta Braves baseball team. Other new facilities, such as the Aquatic Center, basketball gym, hockey stadium and equestrian venue, were given to educational establishments or local authorities. The main Olympic Village (133 ha) was located on the campus of Georgia Technical College. The other main infrastructural legacy to the city was the Centennial Olympic Park in central Atlanta, which was intended to be a gathering place for visitors during the Games and later to enhance the quality of life for local residents (Essex, Chalkley, 2002).

The lack of wider investment in Atlanta's infrastructure was related to the fact that the local organizing committee, the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games (ACOG), had been formed as a private, non-profit making organization with responsibilities for the development of sporting facilities only. Other agencies established for the preparation of the Games appear to have been ineffective in producing broader changes to the urban structure. The preparations for the Atlanta Games have been cited as a failure of American public-private sector partnerships, with the ACOG operating as a 'privatized government', entirely unaccountable to the local population (Rutheiser, 1996). In many respects, these organizational problems were reflected in the operation of the Games themselves.

In particular, the severity of the traffic congestion called into question the decision not to invest in new urban freeways or major public transport systems. The security arrangements also received some criticism, particularly after the bombing in Centennial Square in which two people were killed and 110 people were injured.

As a result of the traffic congestion, administrative problems, security breaches and over commercialization, Atlanta did not receive the kind of media attention it would ideally have liked. Its experience highlights the dangers as well as the benefits of being under the international Olympic spotlight (Essex, Chalkley, 2002).

The Sydney Games (2000)

The Sydney 2000 Summer Olympic Games or the Millennium Games/Games of the New Millennium, officially known as the Games of the XXVII Olympiad, were an international multi-sport event which was celebrated between 16 September and 1 October 2000 in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. It was the second time that the Summer Olympics were held in the Southern Hemisphere, the first one being in Melbourne in 1956.

Building the Games

The 2000 Olympic Games provided Sydney with an opportunity to acquire world class sporting venues, designed and constructed for the Games. NSW took the opportunity to ensure sporting venues were designed and built for long-term use. Importantly though, they also brought forward the completion of major infrastructure upgrades to transport, telecommunications and other services. In addition, the Games stimulated the NSW economy through the construction of additional accommodation facilities in anticipation of an influx of thousands more tourists during and after the Games, and provided a driving force for Ecologically Sustainable Development (ESD), in keeping with the promise of hosting the Green Games (PricewaterhouseCoopers, 2002).

While OCA took responsibility for the construction of facilities for the Games, the funding of these facilities was a public and private sector undertaking. The total costs associated with the development of Games facilities and infrastructure was over $3 billion, with $1.1 billion of that being financed by the private sector and the balance being funded primarily by the NSW Government (almost $1.2 billion), SOCOG ($361.3 million), the Commonwealth Government ($150 million) and others ($221.2 million). 155 Of the total public sector, SOCOG and other funding sources spend on Games and Games-related venues; the overwhelming majority of this total was spent in advance of the Games on projects including:

  • Olympic Stadium - $131.6 million
  • Olympic Athletes and Media Villages - $338.3 million
  • Sydney SuperDome - $142.4 million
  • Sydney Athletic and Aquatic Centres - $218.8 million
  • other venue costs - $414.8.

The NSW Government and SOCOG also made a major contribution to capital expenditure totaling over $670 million on other infrastructure in preparation for the Games, including:

  • transport infrastructure - $409.6 million
  • service infrastructure - $90.4 million
  • other infrastructure - $172.3 million.

In addition, over $3 billion was spent in NSW on major infrastructure projects which, although not essential to staging the Games, had to be completed in time to cope with the influx and movement of thousands of additional people during the Games. These include:

  • the Eastern Distributor road link between the CBD and airport, constructed and operated by Airport Motorway Ltd, on behalf of Leighton Contractors - approx $700 million
  • the upgrade of Sydney Airport including the construction of an airport rail link - $2 billion.

While not strictly Olympic projects, the Games had a significant impact in influencing the timing of these major infrastructure developments as they were crucial elements of Sydney's ability to host the Games.

Sydney Airport

The upgrade of Sydney Airport is a prime example of the benefit for Sydney and Australia arising from the Games. The comprehensive upgrade of Sydney Airport involved expenditure of $2 billion on the development of world class international and domestic airport facilities:

  • $967 million spent on the redevelopment of international and domestic terminals, resulting in efficiency improvements increasing international passenger throughput capacity from 4,560 per hour to over 7,000 per hour
  • $162 million spent on the redevelopment of international freight facilities and enhancing the airport's aprons and taxiways
  • $774 million spent on improving road access and the construction of the Airport Rail Link, the first direct rail link to a capital city rail network in Australia.

Australian know- how played a major role in upgrading the airport with improvements to the Sydney International Terminal being designed, constructed and managed by an all- Australian team, while 85% of components used in the development were sourced in Australia. In construction terms the project was enormous with more than 6,000 separate construction activities, and a peak workforce employing almost 700 workers (Sydney Airport, 200.


The Games gave rise to a significant increase in telecommunications infrastructure capacity in Sydney and operational competence for Telstra with the construction of the Millennium Network to manage the communications demands of the Games. Costing several billion dollars, Telstra's Millennium Network links to its national network, offering telecommunications services across 1.5 million kilometres of optical fibre. Specifically, the Games were a catalyst for (Z.Switkowski, 1999):

  • the Sydney Olympic Radio Network with 16 base stations, and 275 transmitters across metropolitan Sydney
  • installation of 30,000 telephone lines and network services for around 150 broadcasters
  • 4,800 km of optical cabling connecting venues, media and broadcasting, and 280 video links from venues to the International Broadcasting Centre
  • 3,200 audio links (90% used by broadcasting and 10% used by organizers & emergency workers)
  • 60 private TV channels for International Broadcasting Centre and Newington Olympic Village
  • International access via 11 satellites and international submarine cables.

The scale of the capacity increase is evidenced by the fact that the Telstra Olympic network carried a massive 300,000 calls daily during the Games, still less than 50% of the capacity available (Telstra). On the afternoon and evening of the Opening Ceremony alone 500,000 mobile phone calls connected in Sydney Olympic Park, representing the most concentrated mobile coverage in history (IOC, 2000).

City of Sydney

The Olympics had a major impact on development in the Sydney, with projects worth over $2.4 billion completed, and a record 1,145 development applications lodged in 1999-2000. Applications worth close to $1 billion were lodged in June 2000 alone (City of Sydney Annual Report, 2000). In the run-up to the Games, 16 major commercial projects were completed, providing 395,000 square metres of floor space, (including 363 George Street built at a cost of over $125 million). Twelve new hotels were completed in the year before the Games, providing 2,567 rooms, including the Westin Sydney and the Merchant Court. Thirty three residential projects completed prior to the Games provided 3,055 new units, including Stamford Plaza and Finger Wharf.

With the games in mind, the City of Sydney Council completed major improvements worth approximately $320 million to enhance both the appearance and usefulness of parks and other spaces in Sydney, including the widening of footpaths and the roll-out of new street furniture. In particular, an upgrade of the retail core of the city was undertaken to further promote its reputation as an international shopping destination.

The 'Green Games'

A key element of the construction program for the Sydney Games was the commitment to host the first 'Green Games', in line with new IOC requirements. Accordingly, at the heart of Games preparations were the Environmental Guidelines for the Summer Olympic Games, developed in association with Greenpeace and other environment groups. These guidelines influenced all aspects of the Sydney Games including venue planning and construction, energy and water conservation, waste avoidance, minimization and management, air, water and soil quality, event management, and transport (Environment Australia, 2000).

Notable success stories arising from the 'Green Games' agenda include:

  • converting a contaminated wasteland into an attractive integrated sporting precinct
  • solar power and energy efficiency initiatives, including the world's largest sun-powered suburb in the Olympic Village
  • the on-site decontamination of 400 tonnes of soil containing waste contaminated with deadly dioxin and other toxic chemicals
  • a strategic focus on public transport, including new rail connections at Homebush Bay
  • The water reclamation and management system at Homebush Bay, involved treatment, recycling and reuse of sewage and storm water, thereby reducing demand on the mains water supply by 50%.


The Games transport strategy was focused around facilitating the use of public transport, particularly for spectators. In order to implement that strategy, Sydney saw significant upgrades in infrastructure (including the rail link to the Olympic site and the completion of the airport link). During the Games the Olympic Road and Transport Authority (ORTA) co-coordinated all transport through the new $30 million Transport Management Centre, the construction of which was brought forward by a year to ensure its effective operation before the Games (NSW Road and Transport Authority's website).

The NSW Government's investment in improved transport infrastructure can be credited with providing smooth, effective and efficient transport services during the Games. Sydney's public transport networks successfully handled record levels of usage of public transport during the Games including:

  • travel by over 4.6 million passengers to Sydney Olympic Park on public transport, including roughly 3.5 million by rail, and over 1.1 million by bus, significantly reducing potential pollution levels and greenhouse gas emissions
  • travel by more than 1 million passengers on Sydney Harbour ferries.

The massive increase in transport activity was also experienced at Sydney Airport. From 1 September to 5 October, aircraft movements at Sydney Airport totaled 30,604 - an increase of almost 17% over the same period in 1999 (The Australian Government and The Sydney 2000 Games, 2001). International passenger arrivals were up 22% and international passenger departures were up 14% on 1999 figures.

A record 45,500 passengers were processed at the International Terminal on 2 October 2000, involving the handling of over 40,000 outbound bags, and the movement of over 1,000 flights, including over 216 international flights (Sydney Airport, 2000).

After the Games - The Infrastructure Legacy

After the Games, the NSW Government spent a total of $27.8 million on Games venues to prepare them for post-Games usage (NSW Treasury Budget Statement 2001-02).

As a result of Sydney hosting the 2000 Games, the people of NSW have the following world-class, environmentally sensitive sporting venues as an important legacy including (Ibid):

  • Olympic Stadium
  • SuperDome
  • Aquatic Centre
  • International Regatta and White Water Centres
  • Equestrian Centre
  • Shooting Centre
  • Velodrome

The Transport Legacy

In addition, the people of NSW enjoy the ongoing benefit of $46.2 million worth of major transport infrastructure upgrades including rail upgrades undertaken to facilitate the Games. These include upgrades to:

  • Central Sydney Railway Station
  • Lidcombe Railway Station
  • Penrith Railway Station
  • Blacktown Railway Station

The Security Legacy

The enhancement to security infrastructure in NSW and Australia undertaken in preparation for the 2000 Games has left an enduring legacy for both the local population and international visitors. The upgrading of skills and equipment to state of the art has helped NSW and Australia reinforce its reputation as a safe and secure location in which to live, visit and conduct business.

The Homebush Legacy

The impact of the Games and the Homebush legacy is all the more significant when one considers that Sydney 2000 Olympic Games were held on a 760 hectare site at Homebush Bay, a previously neglected middle ring riverside wasteland. Before the Games, the site comprised a mix of unusable swamp and semi- urban uses including a bricks work, abattoir and munitions dump. Following the Games, the site comprises a large, well serviced residential community.

The Games have also left Sydney with a sophisticated management structure dedicated to maintaining facilities at Homebush Bay. The Games therefore both created a new modern community and rid the city of a major land management problem in Western Sydney.

To manage ongoing operation of Sydney Olympic Park, the NSW Government established the Sydney Olympic Park Authority from 1 July 2001 (Sydney Olympic Park). The Authority's aim is to create a viable and vibrant facility for future sport, entertainment events and festivals together with premium residential and commercial development opportunities. Ultimately, the Authority is seeking to be self funding.

For Sydney's residential sector, the most significant impact from the Games has been the sizable increase in housing stock, primarily in Newington Village, as well as other areas within the Olympic Corridor. Following the Games, Olympic Park Village, which was home to Olympic athletes during the Games, was converted into a residential suburb, comprising 2,000 dwellings with capacity to house around 5,000 people (LaSalle, 2001). Built in stages; Newington will also comprise community facilities, a retail centre and a business park. Refurbishment of the Village is expected to generate nearly $30 million in contracts, including $19 million and 300 workers to retrofit houses and units (Westpac and the NSW Department of State and Regional Development, 1998).

Other Games-Related Legacy Benefits

The Sydney office market has also enjoyed long-term benefits from the Games, in terms of improved transport and telecommunications infrastructure. Increased access to public transport, and the resulting improvement in the ease of living and doing business in Sydney, may be one of the most profound and long lasting implications of the Games on the real estate market (LaSalle, 2001).

Residents and visitors to Sydney will benefit well into the future as a result of the comprehensive upgrade of Sydney Airport completed in readiness for the Games. A global survey conducted by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) involving over 90,000 international passengers ranked Sydney Airport as the world's best in class (15-25 million passengers category) for the year 2000 (Sydney Airport, 2001). This represents a move from tenth spot in 1999 to number one, outperforming other international airports such as Rome, Zurich, and Washington/Dulles (Ibid).

Sydney Airport's sophisticated passenger handling capabilities have also seen it voted "Best Airport Worldwide" (15-25 million passenger category) and "Best Airport Asia/Pacific Region" in the 2001 Global Airport Service Excellence Awards (Ibid). Sydney Airport was also named Australia's "Airport of the Year" for 2000, and was commended by Airports Council International for its handling of the Sydney 2000 Games. These awards represent independent validation of Australian infrastructure and management services (Ibid).

The post-Games legacy is also evident in the infrastructure developed by Telstra for use during the Games. Telstra's significantly expanded broadcast service attracted considerable praise from television and radio media. Much of that expanded capacity is still in place following the Games, and having streamlined many existing systems and processes in the lead up to the Games, Telstra has been able to transfer these practices into its normal operations. Telstra is now positioning itself to sell the information and knowledge gained from its Games experience to other major event cities, and is actively engaged in promoting its expanded communications network, both nationally and internationally, to attract offshore investment and business expansion in Australia (NSW State Chamber of Commerce, 2001).

Opportunities for leveraging Australia's environmental know-how represent another important element of the Games legacy. Having hosted the first 'Green Games', Australia is well positioned to maximize the sale of its green technologies used during the physical construction of Games venues as well as its green organizational and knowledge infrastructure stacked up from its Games experience. The strong green focus of the 2000 Games represents a relatively new phenomenon for any big event. SOCOG, OCA, and other Games partners are pioneers in this field, and the models they developed for managing projects and events in environmentally friendly ways provide a 'greenprint' for other Olympic host cities and major events organizers (Environment Australia, 2000).

The Athens Games (2004)

The 2004 Summer Olympic Games, officially known as the Games of the XXVIII Olympiad, was a premier international multi-sport event held in Athens, Greece from August 13 to August 29, 2004 with the motto Welcome Home. Athens 2004 marked the first time since the 1996 Summer Olympics that all countries with a National Olympic Committee were in attendance. It was also the first time since 1896 that the Olympics were held in Greece.

The Olympic Infrastructure

Three and a half years prior to the Opening Ceremony of the Games of the XXVIII Olympiad in 2004, Athens has inaugurated a new international airport,

'Eleftherios Venizelos' created according to modern specifications and offering all modern amenities, that can handle 16 million passengers annually.

The new airport was inaugurated on 27 March in a special ceremony attended by the President of the Hellenic Republic Constantinos Stephanopoulos, Prime Minister Costas Simitis, and representatives of all the major political parties and social agencies.

The main features of the new airport are its state-of-the-art technology and equipment, with a particular emphasis on security, its user-friendly features and its high-level services. Specific attention was given to security during the construction and the operation of the airport - both on the ground and in the air with the use of advanced security systems (ATHOC).

The Olympic infrastructure for the Games has been built mainly in four areas of Attica (the broader Athens region). At Schinias, where the Olympic Rowing and Canoeing Centre were created; Markopoulo, where the Olympic Shooting Centre and the Olympic Equestrian Centre has been established; Aghios Kosmas, where the Olympic Sailing Centre has been created and Acharnes, hosting the Olympic Village (ATHOC).

The removal of the airstrip at Schinias was done to create the Olympic Rowing and Canoeing Centre. The tarmac and airport facilities have been by a lake system designed to re-introduce freshwater to the underground aquifer of the Schinias basin. Freshwater from the Makaria Spring that drains out to the sea, via a canal built in 1923, was re-directed to the lake system. These steps are necessary to restore the original balance of fresh and saline water to the coastal wetlands, as well as provide the necessary balance to protect the forest of rare umbrella pine nearby. Situated approximately 3.8 kilometres away from the protected archaeological site of the Tomb of Marathon, the project overall was intended to restore the natural serenity that existed long ago. The removal of the airport was the first step in a process that included removing an abandoned military facility built in the centre of the wetlands, restrict vehicle traffic along the protected beach and coastal pine forest, and provide increased habitat for migratory birds. This last aspect was achieved through the special design of the lake system, which has a gently sloped earthen bank to increase areas for foraging. In addition, pedestrian traffic is restricted throughout the wetlands to designated pathways, with bird watching towers placed in several points along the route. In a further step to enhance the habitat for birds and other fauna, recreational use of the lake is restricted to rowing and canoeing, (water-skiing, for example, is prohibited) and all uses is restricted during bird mating season (ATHOC).

At Aghios Kosmas, one of the most attractive areas on the Saronic coast, the Olympic Sailing Centre was built as well as the yachting marinas, which hosted the competitors' vessels and the land facilities for their dry-docking and maintenance (ATHOC).

The first section of the Attica ring road, a 70 kilometre-long inter-connecting network of motorways was designed to radically improve the Greek capital's traffic circulation and facilitate improved access to other parts of the country. To connect the Attica Road with the areas through which it passes, or with other important road junctions, 32 flyovers were constructed 108 overpasses and 57 underpasses, 9 footbridges and 35 bridges for the trains of the Greek Railway Organization. In the middle of the Attica Road and all along its length, a strip was constructed for the suburban railway. The Attica Road, which is a protected motorway, has three traffic lanes in each direction (ATHOC).

Impact of the Games to Athens

Transport Network

During the organization phase of the Games, a substantial recreation of the public transport networks was carried out in the city of Athens. At the beginning of this ambitious program in 1996, an obsolete metro was the only railway system in the Attica region, while the use of buses or private cars was almost unaffordable, as the average duration of stationary traffic was 6 hours per day. After all the often belated and repeatedly over budgeted works, a rather new Athens public transport system, described right below, was ready for serving both the Games and the citizens of Athens (Tziralis, Tolis, Tatsiopoulos, Aravossis, 2006).

The basic component of this system is the brand-new underground railway that connects more than 20 municipalities of Attica; its operational distance is currently greater than 160Km and it is planned to exceed 250 km, while the construction of new lines has already begun. The also brand-new suburban railway is another essential part of the transport system. The railway links the - also new- Athens International Airport Eleftherios Venizelos with the city's centre and with 3 another adjacent cities. Its operational distance extended in 2005 to 120km. Furthermore, a brand-new tram railway was created, which connects the centre with the southern suburbs of Athens and provides a beautiful route nearby the city's coast. The reengineering of the public transport system could easily be assigned to the Games' impact, as the event was the motive, as well as the date of completion, for the totality of the relevant works. The improved public transport system is moreover a component of the city's Olympic legacy that testifies the sustainability of the Games, as this arises through the potential extended use of public means of transportation and the subsequent improvement of quality of life (Tziralis, Tolis, Tatsiopoulos, Aravossis, 2006).


The country's labour force expanded from 4.526 millions of employees in 1998 to 4.844 millions, namely an increase of 7.0%. In contrast, during the same period, the labour force in Attica prefecture ballooned from 1.596 to 1.784 millions of employees, an expansion of 11.8%. In other words, the Games were the major reason for attracting an extra amount of labour force in Athens, an amount which remained in the region after the staging of the event. The question that arises unsurprisingly regards the employment rate (Tziralis, Tolis, Tatsiopoulos, Aravossis, 2006).

The percentage of unemployed in both Greece and Attica prefecture were about 12% in 1999. This percentage diminished successively in the following years till 2003. However, the trend was more intense in Attica rather than in the whole country. As a result, the unemployment rate from 2003 to 2005 was 9% in the capital's region, while about 10% in national level. The Games was the major cause not only for greater inflow of employees, but also for a more efficient incorporation of these extra employees into Attica's economic system (Tziralis, Tolis, Tatsiopoulos, Aravossis, 2006).

The economic impact of the Olympic event could furthermore be confirmed in the evolution of specific sectors of national economy. For the period of 1998 to 2002, the total amount of full-time people employed in national economy was rather constant, nearly equal to 4.000 million people. On the contrary, the full time employees occupied in the relevant to the concept of the Games sectors of constructions and hotel / restaurants were significantly increased (Tziralis, Tolis, Tatsiopoulos, Aravossis, 2006).

It is finally apparent that the Olympic event fuelled economic development in a scale that makes the assessment of its environmental impact in terms of sustainability a serious need (Tziralis, Tolis, Tatsiopoulos, Aravossis, 2006).

Other Areas

The Olympics served moreover as the major or minor cause for improvements in urban planning and development. In the totality of the Olympic cities, including

Thessaloniki, Patrai, Volos and Herakleion, a wide revitalization program has been carried out. Especially Athens has been engaged in a tight refreshment schedule during which ancient sites became easier to access and museums were renewed. The most important out of these works was the restoration of the ancient forum around the Acropolis.

Furthermore, the Games were a reason to increase the number and extent of protected areas and natural sites, in an effort to safeguard the forests and enforce the ecological sensitization and awareness of the population. In the years between 1996 and 2004, the surface of protected areas has been increased more than 6%, especially in the wider areas of great ecological importance and biodiversity (Tziralis, Tolis, Tatsiopoulos, Aravossis, 2006).

The Beijing Games (2008)

Athens 2004 marked the first time since the 1996 Summer Olympics that all countries with a National Olympic Committee were in attendance. It was also the first time since 1896 that the Olympics were held in Greece. It was the third time that the Summer Olympic Games were held in Asia, after Tokyo, Japan in 1964 and Seoul, South Korea in 1988. These Games were the third time that Olympic events have been held in the territories of two different NOCs, as the equestrian events were held in Hong Kong.

The investments related to Beijing Olympic Games

The investments related to the Beijing OG can be estimated in US$ 14,256.6 millions. Three are the main items: environment protection (60.5%), transports (25.8%), and sports facilities (10.0%).

In comparing the previewed investments for Beijing 2008 with other Olympic case investments (Brunet 1994 and 2003, and Poynter 2006) we can realize the big scale of the works related to these OG. These figures are no definitive and thus the total investment favoured by the OG 2008 should be larger as well as the private contribution. (Yaxiong Zhang and Kun Zhao, 2007.)

Transports and Communications

New Beijing and new OG give new opportunities to construction and operation of communication infrastructure in Beijing. In order to achieve the goal of holding the high level OG in history in Beijing the 2008, the following key project of communication will be programmed and built before 2008.

Railway transportation. There are building municipal railways of 116.6 km in the city and 3 municipal railways of 82.1 km in suburbs, with estimated total investment 63 billon yuan, so as to achieve the goal of 300 km municipal railway in Beijing. (China National Statistical Administration, 2007.) The projects are as follow:

  • Subway Line No. 4 (28.2 km).
  • Subway Line No. 5 (27.6 km).
  • Subway Line No. 9 first phase (5.8 km).
  • Subway Line No. 10 first phase (24.6 km).
  • OG branch (5.9 km).
  • Airport Line (24.5 km).
  • Yizhuang Line (18.8 km).
  • Fangshan Line (29 km).
  • Changping Line (34.3 km)

Highway. Beijing speed up highway construction with express way as focal point, and speed up the process of integration in city and suburbs. It will accomplish the goal of express way directly to the centers of counties and districts in the outer suburbs, and the goal of mileage 15,400 km (including express way 890 km with total investment 30 billon yuan).the project are as follow:

  • Western section of the 6th ring road (88.4 km).
  • Jingcheng express way the second and third phases (108.6 km) .
  • The northern line to airport (10.8 km).
  • The second express way to airport (23 km).
  • Jingbao express way (25.9 km).
  • The northern channel of Jingjin express way (35 km).
  • The southern channel of Jingjin express way (35 km).
  • Jingping express way (69 km).
  • Jingkai express way (7 km).

Urban roads. Beijing will built 10 roads of 6 km including Lianhuachi Xil street, and accomplish the goal of total roads of 280 km. Build main road over 200 km, such as Benchenxi road, Beichengdong road and Aotizhong road serve OG, increase road density and improve micro circulation in the way.

Building transportation hub. Set up a group of comprehensive passenger communication hubs such as Dongzhimen, Xizhimen, Beijing zoo, Liuliqiao, Yimuyuan, Sihui, West Railway Sstation, Beiyuan, Songjiazhuang and Wangjingxi, to shorten the distance of transfer and provide convenience to passengers.

City public transportation. Build 13 municipal railway about 300 km long, about 60 km large capacity bus and tram routs (BRT), and 350 km quick bus and tram transport network After the above goals accomplished, the rate of travel by public transport will be promoted from 27% to 60%, with municipal railway and large capacity bus and tram taking up 40% of the total public transport.

Intelligent traffic system. Build intelligent communication system such as modernization project for communication administration and comprehensive information platform for communication to further improve intelligent communication administration system.

Communications. It is Beijing's genuine desire to provide greater opportunities for more people to share the excitement of the OG by facilitating maximum coverage by broadcasters and the press. Beijing will therefore provide the world media with first-class working, living and transportation condition to ensure fast, efficient and successful coverage of the OG. There will be no restriction on journalists in reporting on the OG.

The opportunity to host over 17,000 accredited members of the world media is, from Beijing's perspective, one of the most exciting prospects as well as a major challenge of the OG. The close proximity of MPC, IBC, the Media Village and the 14 competition sites in the Olympic Green shows the priority given to and the convenience provided for the media coverage of the OG, including the Opening and Closing Ceremonies. (Beijing Municipal People's Congress, 2006a) An overall plan for media operations and services includes the following basic ideas:

  • Comprehensiveness - Comprehensive and accurate information and data will be provided by the Olympic news service to facilitate the media's coverage of the OG.
  • Efficiency - Latest network technology and a well trained staff of media professionals and selected volunteers will be engaged to provide media with easy access to data and information.
  • Convenience - A 24-hourshuttle bus service will be provided for the media from Media Village and media hotels to the MPC and IBC.
  • Comfortable - The accredited media will be provided with comfortable and well equipped living and working environment. Free food and drinks will be provided in the MPC and IBC as well as in all competition venues, subpres centres. Restaurants in the Media Village and media hotels will be open round the-clock. (V. Brajer and R. Mead, 2003.)

The Olympic Venues

The following tables list the competition venues planned in the city, the environmental technology used, the budget allocated for each of them (where available), and their Olympic and post-Olympic use. The venues' post- Games use will set the 'hard' infrastructure legacy of the Games: opening new sport, recreational and commercial infrastructure for the benefit of the citizens of Beijing.

The Impact of Urban Development to Society

Urban-rural employment and social security system has been basically established. Rural employment service system has been created. Urban-rural employment service network has been formed. The population of employees in Beijing has increased significantly. In 2005, there were 8.78 million employees, 2.49 million more than those in 2001. The registered unemployment rate was always kept at as a low level as 1.98% in 2006.

The coverage of the urban social security system expands. A comprehensive implementation goes on to basic pension, basic medical care, unemployment insurance, work injury insurance and maternity insurance systems. Up to 2006, there were 6.041 million, 6.795 million, 4.822 million and 4.653 million people being insured in basic pension, basic medical care, unemployment and work injury respectively, 1.782 million, 4.629 million, 1.95 million and 2.606 million more than those at the end of 2001.The minimum allowance provided by social security system has been increasing year on year (Brunet 1997 and 2007).

Rural minimum living standards security and new cooperative medical system has been further promoted. In 2002, we initiated rural minimum living standards security system, which covers 150,000 urban residents and 80,000 farmers. New rural cooperative medical system has vast coverage. Up to the end of 2006, the system includes 86.9% residents in the rural area. The pilot plan in respect of rural pension has started, with 448,000 participants.

Public service system has been further improved. Education service continues to develop. 99% of school age children received education. The enrollment rate of high school was over 98%. The gross enrollment rate of higher education reached 56%, 11% up compared with 2001. As a result, Beijing was the first city to popularize higher education. A policy that exemplifies textbook fee and miscellaneous fee and grant study and living subsidies" has been implemented so that rights of people with a disability, poor family children can be protected.

Public health