The Olympic Games Rio 2016 delivered many inspiring athletic achievements that were witnessed and shared by a vast global audience through record-breaking media coverage and unprecedented levels of digital engagement. Against a backdrop of economic, political and social challenges, they also set new standards for legacy planning that have left an important heritage.
Planning for the legacy of the Olympic Games Rio 2016 did not start when the flame was extinguished on 21 August 2016, nor even did it start at the moment when Rio de Janeiro was awarded the Games in 2009. Rather, it was planned well in advance of the Olympic Games from the time the city first considered a candidature.
Once the city had made the decision to apply to host an edition of the Olympic Games, legacy figured prominently in all of its activities. In 2009, when the 121st IOC Session meeting in Copenhagen chose Rio de Janeiro as the host city for the 2016 Olympic Games, it did so on the basis of a sound candidature file in which legacy played an important role.
Throughout the process, foremost in the minds of the candidature team was consideration both of what Rio could bring to the Games, but crucially also, what the Olympic Games could do for the city. The Games plan foresaw four zones, and the candidature team noted that two of these zones were in areas of the city that were expanding rapidly and in need of housing and infrastructure for which development associated with the Olympic Games could provide a catalyst.
In the Maracana zone, there were plans to renovate the port and surrounding areas. And even before the Games were announced, there were plans for what would eventually become the Barra Olympic Park, to transform in an Olympic Training Centre after the end of the Games.
Meanwhile, the candidature file did not neglect the social benefits associated with organising the Olympic Games and these too figured prominently in what was a solid candidature file.
Once the Games were awarded, throughout the seven years of their preparation, and even during the Games themselves, legacy planning continued. This was all the more remarkable given the unprecedented challenges facing the country during that period. Several months on, even if the flame is out, the Games promise to leave a shining legacy.