Transportation Investments in Olympic Host Cities



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Transportation Investments in

Olympic Host Cities




Ryan Richter

Masters Candidate

Urban Planning and Policy

College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs

University of Illinois – Chicago

Table of Contents

Executive Summary 3

The Beginnings of the Modern Olympic Games 5

The Modern Olympic Movement and its Organization 8

Selection of an Olympic Host City 10

The Olympic Games and Urban Development 11

Evolution of the Modern Olympic Games 11

The Olympic Games as a Catalyst for Urban Development 12

Host Cities and Urban Development through History 14

Transportation Infrastructure Investment 16

Case Studies 18

Sydney 18

Athens 21

London 25

Analysis 29

Legacy and Conclusions 31

Works Cited 32


Executive Summary

The Modern Olympic Games have grown in size and scale since the austere beginnings of the Olympic Movement in Athens, 1896. The increased complexity, scope, and size of the Olympic Games has profound financial implications for Olympic Games host cities that extend well beyond the provision of sport facilities, logistics planning, and organization during the Games itself. Major investments in a host city’s infrastructure, such as improved urban design, guest and athlete accommodation, venue construction, public transport, security, and utility infrastructure have been necessary to ensure the effective operation of the Games.

Cities have long used mega events such as the Olympic Games for promoting economic development and urban regeneration. Transport infrastructure is a major component of any city, for it facilitates the movement of people and goods. This makes transport not only a social necessity, but also an economic necessity. The hosting of the Olympic Games and other large scale events allow a city to implement and/or expedite long term development plans of which transport is one component.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC), the body that governs the Olympic Games, forces its candidate cities to consider what the legacy and impacts of hosting an Olympic Games might be like on the candidate cities. In the IOC Candidate Questionnaire, candidate cities must describe how the Games fit into its long term planning strategy. Transport is a major part of the Olympic legacy and cost. In terms of transport, the IOC wants guarantees for which infrastructure projects are planned, the size of the airport, and fleet and rolling stock information on the public transport authorities in the candidate city. Essentially, the IOC forces its candidates to understand fully the costs of entering into a contract to host the Games.

With revenue (and the promise of future revenue) coming in from sources as diverse as sport federations, national governments, television broadcasting, and tourism, and the prestige the Olympic Games brings, it is easy to see how host cities use the Olympic Games as a catalyst for urban regeneration. This report will analyze the evolution of the modern Olympic Movement in terms of urban infrastructure development, with a particular examination of transportation infrastructure investments amongst the host cities. Through an analysis of case study involving the Olympic host cities of Sydney (2000 Summer Olympics), Athens (2004 Summer Olympics) and London (2012 Summer Olympics) on its transport investments, this report aims to describe what kinds of transport investments are being made for the Olympic Games and what legacy will they leave.


The Beginnings of the Modern Olympic Games


The idea of a modern Olympic Games was cultivated slowly over a long period of time. It was not just a singular product of the mind of Baron Pierre de Coubertin, although he would be most closely associated with the modern Olympic movement. No, the idea of the modern Olympic Games was a product of labor and love of sport over several generations.

One of the major figures behind the Olympic movement was William Penny Brookes of Much Wenlock, Shropshire, England. A medical doctor by trade, Brookes was also greatly interested in matters of the community and in the improvement of society. In 1840, Brookes formed the Much Wenlock Agriculture Reading Society, which was dedicated to improving the education of local men in the community. By 1850, Brookes would become focused on the physical improvement of the community by forming the Wenlock Olympian Class. The goals and idea behind this organization are some of the same ideals that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) would incorporate as their own (Young, 8):

That it was desirable that a class be established…for the moral, physical, and intellectual improvement of the Inhabitants of the Town & Neighborhood of Wenlock and especially of the Working Classes, by the encouragement of out-door recreation, and by the award of prizes annually at public Meetings for skill in Athletic exercises and proficiency in intellectual and industrial attainments. That this section of the Wenlock Agricultural Reading Society be called The Olympian Class.
The ideas of moral, physical, and intellectual improvement and of recurring athletic contests were among the first ideas of the Olympic movement. Yet, these ideals would present themselves long before the first of the modern Olympic Games. In fact, the first Wenlock Olympic Games were held in October 1850 and would be held annually over the next 10 years. In 1865, Dr. Brookes helped establish the National Olympian Association (NOA) that would stage six National Olympian Games between 1866 and 1883 (Findling, 8).

It was not just the English, however, that were interested in the Greek games of antiquity. The Greeks, too, became interested in reviving their culture after the shackles from the Ottoman Empire were removed in 1830 (Findling, 11). Evangelis Zappa, a wealthy Greek landowner, was encouraged by the philosophy of Panagiotis Soutsos, a Greek poet. After the dawn of Greek independence after four centuries of Ottoman rule, Soutsos began to weigh heavily on the glory of ancient Greece and how this “new” nation might rebuild her glory. Through a poem written in 1833, Soutsos proposed to restore the Olympic Games that could “exemplify education and culture…[and] foster among participants a feeling of brotherhood…the Olympics could be a force for peace” (Young, 2-4).

Zappas was enthusiastic about the idea, and offered to finance it. By 1858, the monarchy gave permission for an Olympics to be held every four years and prize medals in gold, silver, and bronze. Thus, the current prizes in today’s Olympics were born. Zappas’ first Olympics took place in 1859, with subsequent ones in 1870, 1875, and 1889 (Findling, 11). Unfortunately, the 1875 games would be marred by a lack of organization, general disorder, and restriction of athletic participation to the upper classes that would doom an Olympic movement from gaining a foothold here.

Yet it would take another man, younger and more forceful than Dr. Brookes, who could take the idea of the modern Olympics, make it his own, and create a movement that endures to this day. This man is Pierre de Frédy, Baron de Coubertin.

Baron Coubertin, born into an aristocratic family in Paris in 1863, was old enough to remember the defeat of his country by Prussia in the Franco-Prussian War in 1870, and it had a profound impact on him, like many of his generation. The defeat of France in the war impacted the country greatly, due to several major changes. The war brought the destruction of Napoleon III and his army and the end of France as the major military power in Europe, the loss of Alsace-Lorraine, the occupation of Versailles by German troops. It was an altogether a humiliating defeat for the French (Guttman, 8).

The analysis of the French loss in the Franco-Prussian War led Coubertin to believe that the defeat of the French was due not to strategy, but rather, to physical inferiority. At the time, German schools incorporated a rigorous gymnastics program in schools throughout the German states. In contrast, France taught the classics of their culture while largely ignoring physical education (Young, 69). By the 1880’s, after a brief time in the military and law school, Coubertin became interested in social reform. He decided to focus his social reform on physical education in the French educational system.

Coubertin became aware of Dr. William Penny Brookes through Brookes’ writings on physical education. “The maintenance of the physical stamina of the people is an object not unworthy of the attention, the patronage, nay even the support of the state,” Brookes wrote (Young, 72). It seems that Brookes, too, was concerned about physical education and its value for the military. Coubertin was interested. By 1889, Coubertin was in communication with Brookes.

The games at Much Wenlock still continued in 1890, long after the National Olympian Games were over. Brookes invited Coubertin to attend, who by now, had been in close correspondence over the issues of physical education (Young, 78). It is here that Coubertin learned about the Olympic movement, from Brookes’ earlier efforts at the National Olympian Games, Brookes’ Much Wenlock annual Olympic Games, and Brookes’ correspondence with Evangelis Zappas.

Upon return to France, Coubertin began to think about how to form an Olympic Games. One of the first steps lay in the foundation of the Union des Sociétés Francaises de Sports Athlétiques (USFA) in 1890. This organization would act as an umbrella group with an organizational structure that could arrange meetings, lobby for facilities, and publish its own news. Among the sports affiliated with this union was rugby, football, tennis, cycling, and running. The organization also became heavily involved in interscholastic athletics (MacAloon, 158). After a trip to America to attend the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Coubertin announced, on the fifth year of the USFA’s founding, his plan to organize an international Olympic Games. This conference, held in Paris in June 1894, was titled the “International Congress for the Re-Establishment of the Olympic Games. This conference would address the following issues (MacAloon, 167):


  • Possibility of restoring of the Olympic Games

  • Advantages from the athletic, moral, and international standpoints of restoring the Games

  • Nomination of an International Committee entrusted with preparing the restoration

In the end, the conference planted the seed for the organization of the modern Olympic Games. Agreed upon were four year intervals between games, a permanent International Olympic Committee, and the idea of an “ambulatory” Games-that is movement from site to site (MacAloon, 172). However, the most significant achievement of the conference and beginning of the Olympic movement was the creation of the International Olympic Committee, which in turn, delegated Athens as the site of the first modern Olympic Games in 1896.


The Modern Olympic Movement and its Organization


The Modern Olympic Movement is governed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), based in Lausanne, Switzerland. The Modern Olympic Movement includes the summer “Games of the Olympiad” (an Olympiad designates a four year period between the Games) and Winter Games. The word “movement” conveys the fundamental principles of the International Olympic Committee and the Olympic Movement (IOC, 7):

"Olympism is a philosophy of life, exalting and combining in a balanced whole the qualities of body, will and mind. Blending sport with culture and education, Olympism seeks to create a way of life based on the joy found in effort, the educational value of good example and respect for universal fundamental ethical principles."


At its core, the Olympic Movement is built on the philosophy of strong ethics, human rights, and peace. These are among the principles of “Olympism.” These principles, along with other rules and by-laws are officially codified by the Olympic Charter. This charter “governs the organization, action, and operation of the Olympic Movement and sets forth the conditions for the celebration of the Olympic Games.” The Olympic Charter functions as the IOC’s constitution and statutory authority (IOC, 7).

The composition of the Olympic Movement, of which the Olympic Games are a part of, consists of the following organizational elements:



  • International Olympic Committee

  • International Sports Federations

  • National Olympic Committees

  • Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games

  • National Associations and Clubs

  • Judges, Referees, Coaches, Sports Personnel

  • Other recognized Organizations

The International Olympic Committee, founded by Baron Pierre de Coubertin in 1894, is the non-governmental organization responsible for the Olympic Movement, of which the Games are a part of. The IOC has the primary responsibility of supervising the Olympic Games. The IOC is governed by a President, who serves an eight year term; an Executive Board consisting of the President, four Vice-Presidents, and ten other members; and Members who are representatives of the IOC in their respective countries. The current president of the IOC, since 2001, is Jacques Rogge of Belgium (Olympic.org, 2008).

International Sports Federations (IF) are non-governmental organizations that administer one or more sports on an international level. IF’s can be umbrella groups for national sporting clubs. IF’s role is to ensure their sport’s development, contribute to the Olympic Charter goals, and provide technical control of their sports at the Olympic Games (IOC, 58-59).

National Olympic Committees (NOC) are the sole Olympic authority in their respective countries, subservient only to the IOC. NOC’s promote the Olympic Movement and its principles, organize the administration of sport, select and designate cities to apply to organize Olympic Games in their countries, and enforce discipline against violence or doping in sport (IOC, 60).

The Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games (OCOG) is the administrative entity of the National Olympic Committee that has received the right to host an Olympic Games. The OCOG body includes the IOC member from the host country, the President of the NOC of the host country, and at least one delegate of the host city. Other public figures of the host city are usually involved in OCOG (IOC, 2008).

OCOG is the principal agent responsible for the planning, implementation, and operation of the Olympic Games in its host city. The task of hosting the Games is immense and includes, among other things, choosing and/or creating the competition sites, lodging athletes and officials, organize medical services, and solving transportation issues (IOC, 2008).


Selection of an Olympic Host City


The process to be selected as an Olympic Games host city ultimately lies with the IOC. However, general rules can be found within the Olympic Charter. There are two phases of the election: applicant cities and candidate cities. Election of a host city takes place seven years prior to hosting the Olympic Games (Olympic Charter, 2004).

The first phase of the election procedure is the application phase. In order to be considered for election as an Olympic host city, an applicant city must be approved by the NOC of its country first. Additionally, the applicant city must guarantee that it can host the Olympic Games to the satisfaction of the IOC. The IOC shall decide which applicant cities will be accepted as candidate cities (Olympic Charter, 2004).

The second phase of the election procedure involves applicant cities who have successfully passed the applicant phase by the IOC. The cities are now referred to as “candidate cities.” In the second phase, the candidate city must submit a response to the “Questionnaire for Cities Applying to Become Candidate Cities to Host the Games of the ____ Olympiad in ____.” An evaluation commission will be established to study the bids for each of the candidate cities. A written report will be submitted by the evaluation commission to the IOC for review (Olympic Charter, 2004).
Candidate cities are determined based upon their answers to the Questionnaire. The Questionnaire is essentially a blueprint for how the candidate cities will organize the Olympic Games. The major themes of the Questionnaire are the principal concerns that the IOC has regarding the hosting of the Olympics. These themes are (IOC 2012 Candidate Procedure, 2004):


  • Olympic Games concept and legacy

  • Political and economic climate and structure

  • Legal aspects

  • Customs and immigration formalities

  • Environment and meteorology

  • Finance

  • Marketing

  • Sport and venues

  • Paralympic Games

  • Olympic Village

  • Medical and health services

  • Security

  • Accommodation

  • Transport

  • Technology

  • Media operations

  • Olympism and culture

Following submission of the Questionnaire, an Evaluation Commission, part of the IOC, will review and report its opinions on the candidate city and its plans. With this knowledge, the IOC can vote for the host city during its Session for Election. Once the election has been won by the host city, the Host City Contract is entered into agreement between the IOC and the NOC of the host country (Olympic Charter, 2004). This contract governs the rules by which the OCOG of the host city must operate and the obligations it must fulfill.


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