8 Ideas about Olympic Cities


After a successful opening ceremony for London 2012 and a day of sporting events out of the way, This Big City and Future Cape Town got online last Monday for the latest in our monthly series of #citytalk tweetchats to discuss Olympic cities of the past, present, and future. As ever, it was a lively discussion full of great ideas. Here’s eight of our favourite moments:

Olympics and economics

With a lot of talk about the expense of hosting the Olympics, and the seemingly endless debate over whether it has any economic benefit for a city (and according to this article, it doesn’t), we kicked off by asking: Is economic benefit the most important measure for how worthwhile it is for a city to host the Olympics?

Urban branding

Barcelona used the 1992 Olympics to transform perceptions of the city, and east London is arguably benefitting in a similar way from London 2012. So is hosting the Olympics the ideal way to improve an urban brand? We weren’t so sure:

The good and the bad of London 2012

Despite only being a few days in at the point of our tweetchat, we still took the opportunity to ask what people felt London had done well, and what coud have been done better. Let’s start with the good:

And the not so good:

Future use of sports venues

There’s a reason the London 2012 Basketball arena is a temporary construction – such a venue simply wouldn’t get enough use post-Games. So what can cities do to ensure their sports venues continue to serve a real purpose? One option would be to think beyond sport (with the Oval in Vancouver cited many times as a great example):

And of course, cities could always follow to London 2012 model from now on:

What next for Olympic villages? A similar dilemma applies for the mass of accommodation built for a city’s sporting guests. What approach could cities take when considering the future of their Olympic villages? Vancouver got another mention here:

Rio 2016’s approach to its Olympic Village generated some debate:

Transport legacy With hundreds of thousands of people all trying to get to the same place, the challenge of providing a transport solution for the Games is immense. But what do you once all visitors are gone? How can cities ensure their transport investments make sense for citizens in the post-Olympic city? Our verdict? Think local, be scalable:

The future of the Olympic Park

Does an Olympic Park development – where most sporting facilities are all together on one site – make sense any more? Is it the best way to use a city’s space and utilities? Perhaps not:

London has seen both an Olympic Park development and considerable use of existing sporting facilities across the city (and the whole country):

What about Rio 2016?

With the next Olympics just around the corner, we finished our discussion by asking what Rio can learn from recent games. Somewhat unsurprisingly, community engagement was mentioned as a key factor in a successful Games. How do you think Rio are doing in this respect?

Image courtesy of p_c_w n flickr