Barcelona 1992: A model of Olympic Legacy

14 Jun 2019
Barcelona 1992 Legacy

Barcelona used the platform of the Olympic Games 1992 to transform the face of the city and to carry out large-scale projects to promote the practice of sport and boost the local economy. The benefits that the Games left behind are often cited as a positive example of Olympic legacy.

1992 / International Olympic Committee (IOC) - All rights reserved | Assembly of delegations in the centre of the stadium during the Olympic Games Barcelona 1992 opening ceremony and lighting of the Olympic cauldron.
Sports development

The Olympic Games Barcelona 1992 triggered the development of “Sport for All” programmes, ensuring that children and young people, regardless of their social and economic background, origin or gender, would have every opportunity to engage in sport after the Olympic Games.

One of these projects, “Campus Olímpia”, offers children the opportunity to practise various sports in many of the Olympic venues during their summer vacation. Another one, “Convivim Esportivament”, uses sport to encourage the social integration of communities living in different areas of the city.

There is also “Schools practise sport in the city” project, where every year 40,000 children participate in competitions organised by the School Sports Council of Barcelona (CEEB), adding up to around 72,000 young people actively involved with the programme.

The city runs programmes for adults as well, such as “Activate”, a free-to-join initiative that offers people aged over 40 physical activation opportunities across the city’s public parks, gardens and squares.

Urban development

The hosting of the Olympic Games was part of a wider ambition to modernise and transform the city of Barcelona. 

Instead of building a concentrated area for all sports facilities, such as an Olympic Park, it was decided to spread the facilities around the city and across additional sub-sites in the Catalonia region. A study undertaken by city planners and architects on the current and future needs of the city guided the choice of the location for each sports facility, which was an integral part of a larger urban development plan.

A classic example is the Port, a former industrial zone, where the sailing competitions took place.  The regeneration work involved decontaminating the seawater and creating new beaches and leisure areas for the public. After the transformation, the site became a lively residential area, and a major tourist attraction. The new marina built for the Olympic Games has since been used by tourist boats and a local sailing school.

Other examples include the old Estacio del Nord railway station, which was transformed into as a multi-sport venue; the Pavello de l’Espanya Industrial buildings converted into a sports centre with indoor swimming pools; and the artificial Olympic Canal in Castelldefels built for the canoeing competition and now used for international sports competitions and leisure activities.

The ring roads – the most important transport project accelerated by the Games – resulted in a 15 per cent reduction in traffic in the centre of Barcelona immediately after the Games. In addition, several road sections were recovered for use by pedestrians and cyclists and as public spaces.


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