The Creative Legacy of the Olympic Games

Garcia, B. (2007) ‘The creative legacy of the Olympic Games. The symbolic dimension of the Games as a basis for cultural sustainability ‘,

in: Cultural and Creative Impact of the 2012 Games, Creative Clusters, Session hosted by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, London (9 Nov 2007) [presentation]

The modern Olympic Games were founded at the end of the 19th century as a vehicle to inspire youth and promote internationalism. Since then, they have evolved into a global media phenomenon and a platform to establish or project a world class city. In this journey, the role of universally recognised symbolic components such as the Olympic rings, torch relay and, crucially, the mass appeal of opening and closing ceremonies has been increasingly pivotal to the ‘Olympic experience’.

Other equally relevant components of the Olympic hosting process include urban planning and graphic design – from new Olympic venue infrastructures to ubiquitous signage and branding, the so-called ‘Look of the Games’; and street animation to manage the crowds as well as create a festive atmosphere – the now termed ‘LiveSites’. These elements are evidence of the role of cultural and creative entrepreneurs in shaping the Olympic experience. Crucially, it is often these dimensions that create the most sustainable and meaningful legacies for local communities and Olympic visitors alike.

The paper explores the current definitions and regulations for presenting an official Olympic cultural programme and contrasts their narrow focus with the wide range of areas that have been explored and established creative legacies in previous Olympic cities, from Barcelona 1992 to Vancouver 2010.