Olympic Legacies Conference

International Conference: Olympic Legacies and Impacts of Mega-Events on Cities

4-6 September 2013, University of East London

This international conference is designed to bring together researchers, policy makers, representatives of national and international bodies and institutions and anyone interested in and engaged with urban development issues arising from hosting mega-events such as Olympic and Paralympic Games, Football World Cups, International Fairs and World Exhibitions.


Key Themes

The aim is to provide a space to share and exchange knowledge that is focused on, for instance, but not exclusively, the following key themes:

  • The Changing Urban Order and Mega-Events
  • Evaluating Legacy
  • Future Mega-Event Cities

Conference Highlights

The conference programme will consist of a mix of high profile keynote presentations, themed sessions and panel discussions. Highlights of the programme include:

  • Opening keynote by Dr. Juan Clos (Executive Director of UN-HABITAT and former Mayor of Barcelona)
  • Closing keynote by Prof. Lamartine DaCosta (Professor of Olympic Studies, Universidade Gama Filho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
  • Guided field trip to the newly opened Queen Elizabeth Olympic ParkBirches_in_olympic_park-reduced

Rationale and Background

The speed and scale of urbanisation this century is unprecedented. Not only is the majority of the world’s population now living in urban areas, cities are also predicted to be the main engines driving future economic growth. This new urban order will generate new patterns of production and consumption, with cities competing and collaborating to secure economic advantage and regional/global recognition.
Given this context, cities are seeking to accelerate their development and their regional and global status by hosting mega-events – cultural, commercial and sporting events that have mass appeal to global audiences. The host cities use the event to associate the spectacle with the process of urban development or ‘city-building’. Hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Games is perhaps the greatest prize and the most researched in relation to evaluating impacts but many other events have emerged over recent years to rival and emulate the Olympic effect.
In the recent period, and in the wake of Barcelona’s (1992) success, the urban transformation achieved by hosting the Olympics, has become synonymous with the language of ‘legacy’.
However, harnessing the mega-event to achieve the wider objectives of the host city is a complex affair. This international conference is aimed at researchers, policy makers and postgraduate students engaged with urban development issues arising from hosting mega events such as the Olympic and Paralympic Games, including, but not exclusively, Urban Studies, Olympic Studies, Geography, Urban and Regional Planning, Tourism Studies, Event Management, Sport Science, History, Architecture or Geo-Science.
An International Advisory Committee (IAC) has been created to ensure participation from cities and researchers from across the globe; drawing upon multi- and cross-disciplinary insights into cities and the social changes that arise from the catalytic effects of the mega event.

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