The historical evolution of Olympic Games legacy / by Becca Leopkey

Leopkey, Becca

Edited by University of Ottawa. Ottawa - 2009

The following document represents the final report owed to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as a result of receiving a 2008 Post Graduate Olympic Studies Grant. Event legacy has become a key term for bid and organizing committees of large/mega sporting events. As such, the specific purpose of this paper was to map the historical evolution of the legacy throughout the modern Olympic movement (i.e., 1896-current day) in order to examine and contextualize the major trends (e.g., changes in legacy, stakeholders, governance structures and processes) over time. In order to meet the objectives of this paper, a historical review of legacy in the modern Olympic Games was used. Archival material was the primary source of data for this research. This included bid documents, candidature files, and final reports retrieved from the Olympic Studies Centre in Lausanne. While at the Olympic Studies Centre in Lausanne, the IOC decision-making bodies’ collections, as well as the Collection of the Olympic Games (both summer and winter), were consulted. Data analysis was in the form of a content analysis using the qualitative data analysis software ATLAS.ti 6.0., which facilitated the coding and retrieval of the data by allowing the researcher to highlight themes that appeared in the archival material. Findings suggest that the growth of the Games has resulted in the increasing use, importance and formalization of the event legacy concept within the Olympic movement. As a result, several trends have emerged including the existence of several new types of legacy (e.g., urban, environment, sustainability), the change in their emphasis (i.e., changes in their popularity depending on global issues of the time), and their evolution towards creating links with city and regional planning priorities and sustainable maintenance over the long term. An increase in the complexity and interconnectedness between the legacy themes is also evident due to the fact that all of the categories overlap to some degree in multiple ways. Finally, the governance structures and processes of Olympic Games legacy have also evolved. This can be seen in the change from its relatively little importance and recognition in early OCOGs to a point where post-game planning and legacy is now an integral part of the bid process and event planning.

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