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OLYMPIC GAMES, OTHER MEGA EVENTS & CITIES. YOUNG PLANNERS WORKSHOP 2017

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[10/10/2017]

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INTRODUCTION
 
By Ignacio Pemán Gavín, ECTP-CEU Young Planners Workshop Chair

1.-  Mega events and its urban legacy for the  cities
 
This publication contains the findings of the ECTP Young Planners on the topic "Urban planning, public space and mobility”. The results were presented in  Paris on June 29th June 2017 in the frame of the 12th Biennial of European Towns and Town Planners   held 29  June 2017 in Paris & Plain Commune under the general title Cities and Olympic and Paralympics’ Games,

 
According to Federica Busa, a general definition of Mega events can be given as follows:
 
A mega-event is a large-scale, internationally sponsored, public entrepreneurship activity engaging a long-term multi-sector organization within the host city and nation with the double goal of supporting overall local and regional development and advancing universal values and principles to meet global challenges 
 

Large international events work as triggers for local development and bring tangible advantages to the host city and country. Olympic and Paralympics’ Games, Exhibitions and other Mega events can be essential tools for a country to bring out its economy and image of political and social power. 

 
Since more than 40 years, hosting international events such as Olympics and Paralympics’ Games, EXPOs, World Cups, Cultural Festivals and others is an important mean to stimulate growth and development in the host cities.

 
The first modern Olympics took place in 1896 in Athens, and featured 280 participants from 13 nations, competing in 43 events. Since 1994, the Summer and Winter Olympic Games have been held separately and have alternated every two years. From the first modern Olympic Games to the last one held in Río de Janeiro in 2016, many researches have analysed their impacts.

 
The world exhibitions originated from France's tradition of holding national exhibitions. The first World Expo – L’exposition publique des produits de l'industrie Française, (The public exhibition of products from the French industry) – was held in France in 1798 and the "Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations", also known as "first World Expo", was held in London's Hyde Park in 1851. The most recent one, Expo 2015, hosted in Milan, explored the theme "Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life" for six months, demonstrating that urban effects and legacy have evolved.

 
Other Mega events, such as the FIFA World Cup, Cultural capitals, International Exhibitions...etc can be considered and analysed in the same approach as they can also have a strong impact on urban development.

 
2.- Mega events and urban legacy: lights and shadows
The latest generation of Olympic Games are studied under the perspective of new paradigms such as urban regeneration. Urban regeneration is considered since the Barcelona Olympics of 1992 as it participated in Barcelona’s re-development as a modern city.
The Olympic Games organisation has recently evolved and now includes environmental concerns. In 1991, the Olympic Charter was amended to reflect the importance of environment. As such, candidature questionnaires for cities vying to host the 2002 Winter Games revealed questions related to the protection of the environment. Following the adoption of Agenda 21 Sport for Sustainable Development in 1999, the IOC added environment to sport and culture to form the third pillar of the Olympic Movement.

 
In order to counter the social opposition due to the negative effect of globalization, the strategy of Mega events is also concerned by social effects; and therefore involving socially-disadvantaged communities in innovative ways to secure their engagement. This strategy is essential to align ‘city-building’ to the human values of ‘Olympism’.

 
The potential short- and long-term impacts in terms of urban transformation can be considerable. Mega-events can be used as a strategy for urban renewal and regeneration of derelict industrial Brownfield sites, new airport capacities, new roads and rail links, housing, and tourist accommodation. This strategy can also contribute to a new image and identity (‘symbolic capital’) for the host city. — New ‘social capital’ in the form of new skills and organisations.

 
Amongst their tangible benefits, mega-events are catalysts for economic transformation, upgrading of urban infrastructure, strengthening the international image of the city and accelerating the implementation of desired urban policies.

 
But there are also a number of substantial problems, risks and difficulties for establishing a realistic budget a long time in advance. Public expenditure can be used to subsidise private accumulation (increased local taxes);  economic impacts can be transitory; other forms of investment can be postponed or eliminated by staging a mega-event and therefore having a  ‘crowding out’ effect (tourists discouraged from visiting) and gentrification.

 
Recently, negative effects have been underlined such as the processes of “urbanalisation” because the homogenization of the architecture and urbanism that these events leave as a legacy to the city. Frances Muñoz has pointed out that this is “Olympic urbanism”.

 
As Frances Muñoz has said, the future of the urban mega-events of the 21st century need to be guided in terms of urban innovation and creativity, thus escaping the copy & paste urbanism typical of processes of “urbanalisation”  .

 
3.- Challenges; learning from each other
Last researches and academic studies are focused on future challenges for urban strategies of mega events; and in particular on the importance of thinking the future legacy, tangible and not tangible.

 
In the report of Urban Investment Network titled The urban Investment Opportunities of Global Events we read: An important observation made in many of the reviews of the impact of global events is that a key variable is the capability of the local actors and managers of securing the optimum impact through focussed and careful alignment of the event and its amenities with the long-term development requirements of the city.
This workshop is about Mega Events and its impact on the cities and how to make a good urban strategy and it is therefore important to learn from each other.

 
This e-book talks about these same concerns, and articles included walk among theories and practical experiences from western and eastern European cities.  The findings of workshop included face to public spaces and mobility from different perspectives although from the same point of starting: cities need liveable streets, public realm as wider perspective of public space, urban design from pedestrian experiences, bicycle as a alternative.   Interesting proposals are showed on how to move cars from the core of the planning and introducing the vision of pedestrians, how seeking alternatives from  car use and how to improve streets design, and finally how to give voice to citizens and their experiences.

 
4.- Papers,  different  mega events, different scales of cities under  the same perspective: the long term legacy for the cities
Urban legacy from mega event has been analyzed by papers from different perspectives . So, different kind of mega events such as  Olympic games, (London and Río de Janeiro), Winter Olympic Games (Sarajevo, Grenoble), Universal and International Exhibitions (Paris, Zaragoza), Universades (Belgrade and Zagreb) and finally European capital of culture (Matera) have been studied in the workshop.

 
Two  particular features have let enriched the perspective and results of the workshop:    In one hand, different scale of the cities (big, medium, small cities)  and  in different territorial context: so, mega cities as London París or Rio de Janeiro, big cities (at least regarding Europe)  as Belgrade, medium cities as , Zaragoza Zagreb,  and Sarajevo, or  small cities Grenoble and Matera have let to analyzed the different effects of the mega events depending of the different scale of the cities;

 
The other hand, the different origin  of the participants -United Kingdom, France, Spain, Italy, Serbia, Netherland, Hungary - has enabled to introduce in the debate different urban sensitivities.

 
In this framework, Daniel Radai in  his work From Rio with concern: Mega Events for whom? develops an upon personal observation of Río de Janeiro Olympic Games, to shed an accurate light on some spatial and societal effects the summer games brought along to an already contested space.

 
Oscar Wong and   Aigerim Rakhmetulina  in Beyond the iron triangle and Olympic period: a legacy of London Olympics for future mega-events  analyzes how we can better use the mega-events infrastructures and facilities after the event operational period under three main research questions:  How mega events become agents of change and what consequential impacts have been brought and left to social, economic and environmental dimensions?;    How successful has the London Olympic and Paralympics been in promoting as a long term agent of change?  And finally , Where it has not been successful, and what are the main barriers hindering the effectiveness of the long-term use of Olympic-s infrastructures?

 
Maële Giard  and Gauthier Avenas  in "The 1968 Olympic games : a preview of forthcoming urban policies in Grenoble"  analyze the urban legacy of 1968 Olympic games project of Grenoble trying to understand to what extend this project and its implementation prefigure the concerns, new themes or even the standards of future urban policies.

 
Marta Ducci    and Giulia Maroni    have focused their work  To be a culture capital city, in  how other mega events can  learn from these events and particularly how can be used this kind of principles as a starting point for all the others Mega Event, lining for example the selection system, to encourage proposals and strategies to promote the city beyond the single occasion.

 
Sarajevo, Belgrade and Zagreb mega events such as  Winter Olympiads and Universiade are analyzed by  Igić Milica, Vasilevska Magdalena, Ljubenović Milica  and  Đekić Jelena in Mega Events planning process as synergy of urban regeneration, tourism and heritage promotion,  under a common perspective of their possibilities and problems because as the authors announce  regardless the location of these projects, ….many similarities and many problems are constantly repeated.

 
In The Mega-event(s) that formed Paris! World Expositions and the impact on the city Hans Smolenaers and Timo Cents try  to find out how the former expositions where designed and how we can contribute to the nowadays planning methods. Specially to important questions are analyzed: What’s the impact of ephemeral manifestations for the urban ensemble  And Which spatial tools can we extract from temporary events

 
In London 2012 Olympics – An Inclusive Planning revolution? Harry Burchill explores the planning mechanisms leveraged by the London Games to improve inclusive planning policy and practice in London and nationwide and  how influential megaprojects such as London 2012 can be in changing attitudes among decision-makers, businesses and landowners towards inclusivity.

 
Finally, Beatriz Santos and Maria Martinez in their article Positive and negative effects of the 2008 International Exposition in Zaragoza analyze the positive and negative effects that the Expo has had to the city and its inhabitants regarding to urbanity, environment, economy and the image and values.

 
5.- Debate and conclusions.
Debate and questions raised by participants along the working on line (April-June) to prepare the final presentations in  Paris were led by the facilitator of the workshop Jonathan Manns, who has also written the conclusions of the workshop.

 
To conclude, I would like to congratulate all participants for their excellent work; to thanks  ECTP-CEU Executive Committee for its support, specially  to Dominique Lancrenon, General Secretariat   for  her tireless faith in this project  from the beginning and to Julian Hills for his inestimable  help and excellent photographic report.