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The legacy of an Olympic Games

The delayed 2020 Tokyo Games saw millions across the globe tune in to watch the action unfold, with athletes finally getting their chance to compete, break records and establish new personal bests.

According to a University of Oxford study, the 2020 Tokyo Games price tag came to a staggering $15.4 billion.

Whilst much of that cost is eventually recouped in various ways, amongst them the sale of merchandise, broadcasting rights as well as athlete/spectator spending in the host city, many still question whether such Games are financially viable.

For many, the hype generated by the Games just lasts for their duration and quickly dwindles once the Olympic cauldron is extinguished.

However, the Olympics create what is known as an Olympic legacy.

This includes the long-term benefits generated by the Games for the host city/nation, its people and the Olympic Movement before, during and long after the competition finishes.

A city/nation that intends on submitting an official bid for the hosting of the Games must now define a long-term funding scheme to support the delivery of a legacy from the Olympic Games as part of their bidding documentation.

Such a legacy is established via various ways and means and is primarily overseen by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

The IOC believes strongly that the Games need to create more than just good memories from the duration of the Games. As a result, Rule 2 of Article 15 of the Olympic Charter states that part of the IOC’s role is “to promote a positive legacy from the Olympic Games to the host cities and host countries.”

The IOC operates as a non-profit organisation, with 90% of the revenue generated from Olympic Games used to help the hosting nation/city to stage the Olympic Games, assist athletes and develop sports worldwide via a number of programmes and initiatives run by the IOC.

Part of the funds generated by the IOC are used to finance the network of athletes’ commissions across the globe which promote the empowerment of athletes and enables their voices to be heard as well as funding 50% of the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) operations.

The remaining 10% of the revenue generated from the Games goes towards the IOC’s day-to-day running operations.

All revenue generated and distributed by the IOC is strictly monitored, with International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) financial statements published annually as well as the IOC being externally audited.

At the forefront of the lasting legacy are the economic benefits that are reaped by the host nation/city.

Although the nation/city in which the Games are held would have spent millions, if not billions, to be in a position to host the Games, most notably on infrastructure projects to accommodate such a large influx of people, it spends such money with the intention of attracting more tourism, trade and foreign investment towards them which in turn would provide an economic boost to their economy.

Figures from the legacy created almost nine years after the 2012 Olympic Games held in London show that 110,000 more jobs have been created across the host boroughs since 2012, over 35,000 of the 70,000 Games Makers (volunteers) continue to volunteer in their respective communities and one million+ people continue to visit the Olympic Park every year, besides the real estate project that has been developed in the Olympic Park.

The Olympic legacy is extended to development through sport via the IOC’s social responsibility, whereby the IOC enters into various cooperation agreements which assist those who require help the most. It also offers various schemes and initiatives most notably towards youth and women development.

The legacy created by the Games also helps the IOC in its efforts to fight against the manipulation of sports competitions and develop betting intelligence support systems.

Through the Olympic legacy, the IOC is able to assist NOCs to organise Olympic Days across the globe, run various educational programmes as well as offer Olympic solidarity. 

All legacy outcomes are monitored, reported and measured on a regular basis by the IOC to ensure that the intended targets are duly met and adhered to and that no abuse of distributed finances occurs.

Olympic legacy is the result of a vision. It encompasses all the tangible and intangible long-term benefits initiated or accelerated by the hosting of the Olympic Games for people, cities/territories and the Olympic Movement.

The Olympic legacy is all about human, social and cultural long-term benefits.

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