The Olympic Games 2016 are underway in Rio de Janeiro and, as well as thrilling a global audience for 16 days, are set to leave a lasting legacy in the Brazilian city for many years to come. The benefits of hosting the Games can already be seen in many previous Olympic host cities, with Beijing, where the Olympic Games opened today eight years ago, among those to have enjoyed an array of long-term legacies.
From world-class sporting facilities and improved infrastructure, to positive impacts on education, health and the environment, the widespread legacies that were created by the Games are as evident today as they have ever been.
Iconic venues that were built for the Games remain in regular use, with the Water Cube Aquatics Centre being converted into a public water park and the Bird’s Nest Stadium regularly hosting a variety of major sporting events, including the 2015 IAAF World Athletics Championships.
Beijing will also make use of existing venues from the 2008 Games when it hosts the Olympic Winter Games in 2022, with the Water Cube set to stage the curling events, the National Indoor Stadium to be used for ice hockey, and the Opening and Closing ceremonies scheduled to once again take place at the Bird’s Nest.
In addition, Beijing 2022 will benefit from several major infrastructure projects that were completed ahead of the Olympic Games 2008, including the construction of a new terminal and runway at the city’s international airport, which increased passenger capacity from 20–25 million in 2002 to 65–75 million in 2008.The 2008 Games left a profound legacy, such as accessible venues and an urban transportation system that we are still using.Wang Hui Beijing 2022 spokeswoman
The Games also led to a complete expansion of the Beijing main road network and a massive extension and renovation of the city’s metro system, with the addition of several new subway lines and a high-speed rail link to Tianjin.
In total, public transport capacity was increased by 4.5 million ahead of the 2008 Games, leading to a reduction in road congestion, providing one of many environmental legacies from the Games. Authorities also invested ¥140bn (US$21bn) in air quality improvements, with 60,000 coal-burning boilers being upgraded to reduce emissions and more than 4,000 public buses being converted to run on natural gas.
"Sustainability is the core value that the International Olympic Committee tries to embody. Reusing the venues built for 2008 is in line with the IOC's philosophy and will significantly cut the cost of hosting the 2022 Olympic Winter Games," said Wang Hui, Beijing 2022’s spokeswoman. "The 2008 Games left a profound legacy, such as accessible venues and an urban transportation system that we are still using. All these facilities and assets have been operating effectively since then, and will provide Beijing with a big edge for 2022."