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Legacies of Past Olympic Games

The Olympic Games are the main sport event in the world. They are not just a sporting event, but a huge incentive for the development of the country in which they are held. They bring positive long-term social and economic changes, set new standards to popularize the Olympic values. All this rich tangible and intangible heritage remains in the country for many years. Therefore, countries are struggling for the right to hold games and in case of receiving this right, they announce it to be the project of national significance.
There are many examples of how the Olympic Games have changed radically the image of the city, its infrastructure and economy, in fact, gave the city new life. For example, the industrial center of Barcelona has become a global tourist resort, and Beijing has become a real exhibition of achievements of modern China.

The legacy of Olympic Games is huge and is expressed in different aspects of human life. Legacy is the phenomenon of the spiritual life, lifestyle, inherited, apprehended from previous generations. The legacy that remains after the major sporting events includes various physical facilities: roads, airports, hotels and stadiums. But that’s not all, as there is so-called Olympic effect – a sharp and steady increase in trade volumes of 30% in the country when Games are held (Dyreson, 2008: 1991-1992). Experts admit that with proper planning a major sporting event may serve not only the impetus for the development of infrastructure, but also acts as a catalyst for the development of socio-economic sphere, attracting necessary financing in infrastructure projects (Kissoudi, 2008: 1972-1973).

Thus, the Olympic Games in 1992 became a catalyst for urban renewal process and a comprehensive renovation throughout Barcelona. The city built ring roads which reduced the problem of congestion and traffic lines of constant traffic jams. The public transport system was also reorganized (Chappelet, 2008: 1884-1887).

Another vivid example was Olympic Games in Beijing. While the preparation for the Games (2002-2006), China has invested nearly $ 40 billion just in infrastructure. China built 40 new stadiums and sports facilities, doubled the capacity of Beijing subway, the construction of public transportation monorail, built and rebuilt roads, and opened a new airport (Dyreson, 2008: 2117-2118).

Olympic Games in Vancouver also lead to the development of infrastructure. One of such improvements was the reconstruction of the road Sea-to-Sky Highway, which allowed increasing the capacity of the Vancouver-Whistler corridor. Another example is the construction of Canada Line, which connects Vancouver with Richmond and Vancouver International Airport, as well as the subsequent improvement of roads throughout Greater Vancouver (Knight, 2007: 1243-1246).

The legacy of the Olympic Games is not limited to urban regeneration, transportation, facilities, tourism, economic and cultural legacy, but also includes the development of voluntary movement. Olympic Games would have been possible without the volunteer movement activists, submitted, mostly by young people. Olympics is not just a sport, but also culture and education, they influence understanding and solidarity. All Olympic legacies often go to the youth. To unite the youth with the help of Olympic values in a broad sense, not only by sports, but also by mutual understanding and friendship is one of the main strategic objectives of any Olympic Organizing Committee.

The evolution of voluntary movement, during the Olympic Games, begins with the 1912 (Olympic Games in Stockholm in 1912), Antwerp (1920), Paris (1924) and Amsterdam (1928), which used the volunteers from the association, similar to Scouts (Gold, 2009: 179-180). These young men carried a simple but very important for the organization of the Olympic Games activities, such as mail delivery, cleaning and assistance in maintaining order during the Games.

Then more and more volunteers assisted in holding the Olympic Games: 2191 volunteers in Helsinki (1952), 3500 in Melbourne (1956), 6700 in Lake Placid (1980), 4000 in Sarajevo (1984), 34548 in Barcelona (1992) (Gratton, 2008: 1922-1924). The Beijing Olympics has broken the record for the number of volunteers: 70 000 volunteers worked at the Olympics (Jinxia, 2008: 2019-2020).

Beijing Olympic volunteers provided customer services, worked in two data centers for thousands of foreigners, helped the guests of the Olympics to focus on the streets of the metropolis. About 400 thousand of volunteers followed tourists to the historical and cultural sights of the capital (Maguire, 2008: 2041). Many volunteers are engaged in information support services for the Olympic Games, opening and closing ceremonies, take care of foreigners, speak foreign language and are able to provide first aid if necessary.

Volunteer Olympic legacy is one of the most important legacies, as it contributes to the development of skills, abilities, help volunteers meet new friends and feel themselves as a part of the new team. Involvement in a spectacular historic event is a unique chance to meet with famous athletes, prominent politicians and foreign guests. It gives a unique experience and skills, which can later be used by volunteers in their future lives. The Olympic Games play an important role in the development of volunteerism around the whole world.


Chappelet, J. (2008). Olympic Environmental Concerns as a Legacy of the Winter Games. The International Journal of the History of Sport, vol. 25, no 14, December, pp. 1884-1887.
Dyreson, M. & Llewellyn, M. (2008). Los Angeles is the Olympic City: Legacies of the 1932 and 1984 Olympic Games. The International Journal of the History of Sport, vol. 25, no. 14, December, pp. 1991-1992.
Dyreson, M. (2008). Epilogue: Athletic Clashes of Civilizations or Bridges Over Cultural Divisions? The Olympic Games as Legacies and theLegacies of the Olympic Games. The International Journal of the History of Sport, vol. 25, no 14, December, pp. 2117-2118.
Gold, J.R. & Gold, M.M. (2009). Future Indefinite? London 2012, the Spectre of Retrenchment and the Challenge of Olympic Sports Legacy. The London Journal, vol. 34, no. 2, July, pp. 179-180.
Gratton, C. & Preuss, H. (2008). Maximizing Olympic Impacts by Building Up Legacies. The International Journal of the History of Sport, vol. 25, no 14, December, pp. 1922-1924.
Jinxia, D. & Mangan, J. A. (2008). Beijing Olympics Legacies: Certain Intentions and Certain and Uncertain Outcomes. The International Journal of the History of Sport, vol. 25, no. 14, December, pp. 2019-2020.
Kissoudi, P. (2008). The Athens Olympics: Optimistic Legacies-Post-Olympic Assets and the Struggle for their Realization. The International Journal of the History of Sport, vol. 25, no 14, December, pp. 1972-1973.
Knight, G.; Neverson, N.; MacNeill, M.; Donnelly, P. (2007). The weight of expectation: Cathy Freeman, Legacy, Reconciliation and the Sydney Olympics-A Canadian Perspective. The International Journal of the History of Sport, vol. 24, no. 10, October, pp. 1243-1246.
Maguire, J.; Barnard, S.; Butler, K.; Golding, P. (2008). Olympic Legacies in the IOC’s ‘Celebrate Humanity’ Campaign: Ancient or Modern? The International Journal of the History of Sport, vol. 25, no 14, December, p. 2041.