Olympic Agenda 2020: effects on the Games’ urban concept

Olympic Agenda 2020: effects on the Games’ urban concept

Submission ID:


With ups and downs, the Olympic Games have been driving urban, economic, and social development in host cities and communities. Even with demanding requirements, with a huge risk factor, the visibility of the mega-event still entices political leaders to bid to stage the Games. But caught in the middle of a changing modern, diverse, and digital society, with elevated concerns about sustainability, the Olympics have been facing strong public opposition. Although the event can bring several gains, such public claims are only but valid, as many of the most recent Olympic legacies have failed to enhance its full urban potential and their benefits are not clearly seen. Being mostly publicly funded, and with a track record of the highest and most recurrent cost overruns among mega-projects, the event is nowadays seen as elitist, aiding only a niche sector. Concerned about the use of their money, communities of bidding cities have raised their voices and demanded governments to withdraw their bids, resulting in a lack of candidates to host future editions.
Worried about the future of the event, the International Olympic Committee recognized the problem and has been committed to change the Games’ model to enhance economic, environmental, and social sustainability. In the end of 2014 it implemented the Olympic Agenda 2020, driving important changes in the organization of the Olympic Games, including more flexibility in urban requirements and a new definition of host, not being required to be a city anymore and meaning that regions or countries are now allowed to bid. This research investigates the origin, consistency, feasibility, and innovation of the Olympic Agenda, verifying how is it driving changes in next hosts and candidates and how will it affect the Games’ urban concept and respective legacies. Conclusions point to a successful radical change, with the event more aligned with sustainability ideals but, at the same time, facing new operational challenges [Palgrave].

Corresponding Author

Gustavo Lopes dos Santos

Instituto Superior Técnico, Universidade de Lisboa

Author #1:

G. Lopes dos Santos

Instituto Superior Técnico, Universidade de Lisboa

Author #2:

Beatriz Condessa

Instituto Superior Técnico, Universidade de Lisboa

Author #3:

Fernando Nunes da Silva

Instituto Superior Técnico, Universidade de Lisboa

Preferred Track

1. Mega-events and mega-projects: trends and demands

Second Preferred Track

6. Urban policies

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