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IOC hails venue legacy in new report

The International Olympic Committee has issued a new report which shows that 92% of permanent venues used during the Olympic Games in the 21st century remain in use.

The report, which was published on Friday, is the first official inventory of the post-Games use of 817 permanent and 106 temporary Olympic venues across 51 editions of the event, spanning the 1896 Olympics in Athens to the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang.

According to the report, 85% of all permanent venues used during the history of the Games are still in use, with the figure rising to 92% for events that took place in the 21st century.

The report was compiled through data collection and wide stakeholder consultation, including venue owners and operators, legacy entities, city/regional governments and national Olympic committees. It has been assured by professional services company KPMG.

The report found that 75% of the 32 permanent venues used during the 2004 summer Olympics in Athens are still in use, with this percentage rising to 83% for Sapporo 1972, 93% for Rio 2016 and 94% for Barcelona 1992. The Vancouver 2010 and Salt Lake City 2002 winter Olympics have a 100% still-in-use rate.

The percentage of new permanent venues (those built for the Games) that are still in use is 87%, while the percentage of existing permanent venues stands at 83%. Additionally, 87% of the complex venues, such as stadiums, Olympic villages, swimming pools, velodromes, ski jumping hills, sliding centres and ice hockey stadiums, are still in use.

Over time, the proportion of temporary venues has evolved, according to the report. The early 20th century saw temporary venues account for 16% of total venues, with this dropping to 9% in the mid-20th century and 7% in the late 20th century before rising to 14% in the 21st century.

The IOC now requires Olympic organisers to make the most of existing and temporary venues, in line with its Agenda 2020 programme which also encourages the use of new materials and technologies during the construction phase.

The report found that only 35 venues – or 4% of all 817 permanent venues – are closed, inactive or abandoned, with the rest of the venues no longer in use having reached the end of their life cycle, been destroyed during a period of war or accident, or replaced by other urban development projects.

Christophe Dubi, the IOC’s Olympic Games executive director, said: “This report is a very impressive testimony to the legacy that the Olympic Games create in the host cities and regions. We are thrilled to see that the overwhelming majority of Olympic venues continue to offer sports competition and training opportunities at elite and grassroots levels, while creating health and social benefits in past Olympic hosts.

“With the IOC’s focus on sustainability and legacy, the lessons from the past are more important than ever. By looking at the post-Games trajectory of Olympic venues, we wanted to better understand the likelihood of their continued use. This will help us ensure that future Olympic Games continue to create even more sustainable legacies for their hosts, responding to their long-term sustainable development needs.”

For the upcoming Paris 2024 and Milano Cortina 2026 Games, new facilities will account for just 5% and 7%, respectively, of the total venues used. The Los Angeles 2028 Games are set to go ahead without a single new permanent venue being built.

Image: Bernd Dittrich on Unsplash