Lillehammer 1994 set the stage for sustainable Games legacies
When Lillehammer was awarded the right to host the 1994 Olympic Winter Games, its Organising Committee aimed to make the Games a showcase for sustainability and environmental policies.
Now widely regarded as the first ‘green’ Games, Lillehammer 1994 provided numerous legacies, not only for the host region itself but also the Olympic Movement as a whole.
Organisers set five ‘green goals’ for the Games, which required them to increase international awareness of ecological questions; to safeguard and develop the region’s environmental qualities; to contribute to economic development and sustainable growth; to adapt the architecture and land use to the topology of the landscape; and to protect the quality of the environment and of life during the Games.
In order to achieve these objectives, more than 20 sustainability projects were initiated during Games preparations, including the relocation of the speed skating arena in Hamar in order to protect a sanctuary for rare birds and the construction of an underground ice hockey venue, the Gjovik Olympic Cavern Hall, in order to preserve energy.
Organisers also used stone that had been reclaimed from the construction of the ski jumping venue to create the Olympic medals, while recycling and public transport use were also heavily promoted.
Emphasis was also placed on the post-Games use of the venues, which had been constructed using predominately local materials and with strict energy-conserving measures.
The sports arenas, for example, were made available for public use as well as for elite athletes and have since been used for several other major sporting events, as well as concerts and other cultural and commercial meetings. In 2016, the venues will also be used for the second edition of the Winter Youth Olympic Games.
Speaking about this dedication to legacy and the environment, Gerhard Heiberg, IOC member and head of the Lillehammer Olympic Organising Committee, said: “The legacy of the 1994 Olympic Winter Games is alive, not only in Lillehammer and the areas around Lillehammer, but also in the Olympic Movement.”
Indeed, the programmes initiated by Lillehammer in 1994 set new environmental standards for major sporting events, ensuring that future organisers would be required to include sustainability measures into their plans.
Following the 1994 Olympic Winter Games, for example, the Lillehammer Organising Committee received the UNEP Global 500 Award for setting new environmental standards at the Games, while the environment was also made the third “pillar” of the Olympic Movement, alongside sport and culture.
In addition, the IOC created a Sport and Environment Commission to advise it on environment-related policy and developed an Agenda 21 for sport and the environment to encourage its members to play an active part in sustainable development.