IOC make a pitch for use of existing venues


Tania Braga at Coliseum Europe Image: MJR Group Ltd./Coliseum

Tania Braga would have made for a good teacher. Her whole approach to explaining the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) report and findings on ‘What happens to Olympic venues when the Games come to an end?’ shows her devotion to the subject.

Braga oversees the implementation of the IOC Legacy Strategic Approach, working with upcoming and past Olympic Cities to create long-term benefits for people the Host City/territory and sport in the host country.

Before joining the IOC, she has held the position of Sustainability, Accessibility and Legacy Head of the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games Organizing Committee. Her background combines a PhD in Applied Economics with hands-on experience with private corporations, local and national Governments, research institutions, and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in the areas of sustainability and corporate responsibility.

International Olympic Committee (IOC)

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is a non-Governmental sports organization based in Lausanne, Switzerland. It is constituted in the form of an association under the Swiss Civil Code.

Olympic Games

The Olympic Games are an international sports festival, held every four years. The ultimate goals are to cultivate human beings through sport, and contribute to world peace. The Summer Games and Winter Games are held separately.

The power Olympic venues hold

The ‘International Olympic Committee’ report – ‘Over 125 years of Olympic venues: post-Games use’ states that Olympic venues are a powerful way to improve the lives of residents of Host Cities and regions. They can increase the opportunities for people to enjoy sport and physical activity, create jobs and contribute to the regeneration of Cities and regions.

The report is the first-ever official inventory of the post-Games use of Olympic venues. It takes a look at 817 permanent Olympic venues used at 51 Games editions in the modern era, from Athens 1896 to Pyeongchang 2018 and discovers that 92 percent of the permanent Olympic venues from the 21st century, and 85 percent of all permanent venues are still in use today. Only 35 venues – or four percent of all 817 permanent venues – are closed, inactive or abandoned.

In an informative and exclusive chat with ‘Coliseum’, Tania Braga, Head of Legacy, IOC, Switzerland, stresses on the point that instead of building new venues, the existing facilities should be upgraded and used for the every four years edition of the Games. She also does a postmortem on how many venues are still in use.

The post-Games use of Olympic venues

  • International Olympic Committee;
  • Since 1894;
  • Guardian of the Olympic Games and leader of the Olympic Movement; and
  • The post-Games use of Olympic venues.

Tania Braga started off by talking first-hand about the report which IOC did – ‘Post-use of Olympic Venues’.

Venue classification

  • Permanent – Existing

The venue already existed when the Host City/territory was selected to host the Games. The venue required no major changes or construction ahead of the Games.

  • Permanent – New

The venue did not exist before the host was selected to stage the Games. The venue was intended to be a permanent venue, which means that its construction was initiated/accelerated by the Games, and the venue was intended to remain operational after the Games.

  • Temporary

The venue was constructed for the Games and returned to its original state after the Games ended.

Current use status



  • In Use

The venue is regularly used for both sport (practice, training and competition) and/or non-sport activities (culture, leisure, entertainment, community or business).

  • Not In Use

The venue is not used regularly either for sport (practice, training and competition) or non-sport activities (culture, leisure, entertainment, community or business).
Braga explained about what is the actual use of the state of the venues used for the competitions and during the Games? – “We tracked the post-Games use of 923 Olympic venues at 51 Summer and Winter editions of the Olympic Games, from Athens (Greece) 1896 to Pyeongchang (South Korea) 2018. We decided to look at 51 editions over 120 years. What is the situation with these venues today? How many they are? Which ones they are?”

She added, “The first task as part of the report was to compile the list and understand how many venues we have. We have seen that they have increased over the times as the Games grew there were more sports, more athletes or disciplines.”

923 Olympic venues were tracked

The report looked at all the venues that staged medal events in all sports and disciplines, and at all 51 editions of the Games of the Olympiad and Olympic Winter Games of the modern era, from Athens 1896 to Pyeongchang 2018. The report also included the venues that hosted the Opening/Closing Ceremonies and the Olympic Villages that provided accommodation to the athletes.

The number of venues used to host the Olympic Games has increased over time, as a result of the growth in the number of sports and disciplines on the program.

Key findings

  • Ninety two percent of the permanent venues from the 21st century are in use; and
  • Eighty five percent of the permanent venues are still in use.

Braga pointed out, “And we found from the 23 venues, 89 percent were permanent and 11 percent temporary. And the big question was – how many are still in use? Eighty five percent of the permanent venues are still in use and 15 percent of them are not in use. We are not only talking about use for original sport but any type of use – sport and sport events, conference, business, school education. We had a look. Some of these venues are over 120 years old, some of them are over 100 years, 50 years and that is what we found by looking at the full picture of Olympic venues. These are, of course, data pre-COVID. This was the situation between 2018, 2019 and first two or three months of 2020 before the COVID-19 lockdown.”

Venues come in all sizes – some are small, some are big, some have been built exclusively for the Games. Are there any relevant differences between the different types of venues?

  • Whether new or existing, the percentage of permanent venues still in use is similar

She continued, “Then the second question we had – does it make a difference if the venues are existing or if it was built at the time of the Games to host the competitions?”

“We found out the difference is really more. The new venues – we have 87 percent of new venues in use and the existing ones are 83 percent. The existing ones they tend to be a little bit older and more of them I would say have reached the end of their life but the difference is really small here.”

  • Eighty seven percent of the complex venues are still in use

She added, “Another question we had was how about the complex and large venues. So, we took a sample of the biggest, more complex, more expensive ones – the Olympic Villages, the Olympic Stadiums, the velodromes, ski jumping hills, swimming pools, and ice hockey stadiums. For these ones, we have 87 percent complex venues still in use.”

  • More recent games have a higher percentage of permanent venues still in use

Explained Braga, “What was really surprising is that if we look at the venues that were used in the editions – pre-Second World War – the very old venues, we still found 71 percent of those are still in use. And, as the time passes, this percentage increases slightly and if we look at the venues on the editions of this century, it’s 92 percent in use.”

  • The proportion of temporary venues used has increased in the 21st century

Temporary venues were used in the early editions of the Olympic Games – in the early 20th century -for a variety of reasons. At the time, the technical requirements of competitions allowed for simpler configurations of the fields of play. The number of athletes and spectators was also smaller, thus requiring less complex structures.

With technological advances and new materials, temporary structures can now fulfill more complex technical requirements for both fields of play and spectator stands. Olympic Games hosts of the 21st century have taken the opportunity to use temporary venues when there was no long-term need for new permanent ones. Since 2015, and the adoption of Olympic Agenda 2020, the IOC has actively encouraged hosts to use temporary facilities.

She further pointed out, “We therefore expect the number of temporary venues to continue to grow in the future. We are encouraging the hosts to not build new venues but to either rehabilitate venues that already exist and give them new life or to use temporary venues.”

Key takeaways (from permanent venues)

  • Multiuse is the name of the game – “The venue should be in a position to hold sport, cultural, community activities and should also offer leisure and fitness facilities.”;
  • Cluster – “A venue which is island-like usually struggles than venues which are in close proximity to each other. The venue should have accommodation for athletes and should boast scenic tourist spots nearby.”; and
  • International sport events – “To keep the venues running 365 days a year, it is imperative that international sport events are held. For this to happen, the venues should be revamped and will have to come armed with tech bells and whistles and offer crème de la crème facilities to fans.”

“We found out that some of the venues have been totally refurbished two or three times so that they wear a chic look and also to keep providing these stadia a fresh lease on life.”

Use of existing/temporary venues for upcoming Olympic Games

The venue master plans for upcoming Olympic Games are fully aligned with Olympic Agenda 2020.

Braga informed, “Since 2015, Olympic Agenda 2020 has reshaped the IOC’s approach to upcoming editions of the Games by requiring that all projects align with the host’s long-term plans. We have kind of reshaped the way we do things related to the Games and we are already encouraging the upcoming editions to not build new venues unless they have a very solid proof business case for a long time in the future.”

  • To use more temporary venues and to use existing venues after modernizing and upgrading them;
  • The IOC works with potential hosts on developing projects that fit with the local reality – “The Games adapt to the City/region, the City/region does not adapt to the Games.”;
  • To ensure long-lasting benefits for local populations, potential hosts are invited to discuss projects that align with the existing long-term plans;
  • Potential hosts are encouraged to use a maximum of existing and temporary facilities and to present a robust legacy plan for any new construction;
  • If no proven legacy value for permanent construction can be presented, hosts are encouraged to use temporary venues;
  • No minimum capacity is required to ensure efficient legacy use of venues; and
  • Sharing venues across disciplines is encouraged to avoid building new structures.


Change in mindset (Upcoming Games’ editions)


Paris 2024

With 95 per cent of the venues either existing or temporary, Paris 2024 has reduced new construction and provided for certain venues to be shared, which saves money and reduces environmental impact while retaining Paris 2024’s spectacular visuals and strong local character.

The 2024 Summer Olympics, officially the Games of the XXXIII Olympiad and also known as Paris 2024, is an upcoming international multisport event scheduled to take place from July 26th to August 11th, 2024 in Paris, Île-de-France, France.

Milano Cortina 2026

With 93 percent of its venues either existing or temporary, Milano Cortina 2026’s selection of venues is aligned with Northern Italy’s ambition to become a world-class hub of excellence for Winter sports, while preserving the traditional character of the venue locations.

The 2026 Winter Olympics, officially the XXV Olympic Winter Games and also known as Milano Cortina 2026, is an upcoming international multisport event scheduled to take place from February 6th to February 22nd, 2026 in the Italian cities of Milan, Lombardy and Cortina d’Ampezzo, Veneto.


Los Angeles 2028

With a wealth of world-class assets at its disposal, Los Angeles can host the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games without building a single new permanent venue. The “radical reuse” concept also applies to the training facilities and the Athletes’ Village.

The 2028 Summer Olympics is an international multisport event scheduled to take place from July 21st to August 6th, 2028, in Los Angeles, California, US.

Brisbane 2032

Brisbane, located in South-East Queensland, is one of Australia’s fastest-growing regions. The new venues planned for the 2032 Games are part of a long-term legacy that will help the region meet the demands of a rapidly growing population with a passion for sport.

The 2032 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XXXV Olympiad and also known as Brisbane 2032, will be an international multisport event scheduled to take place from July 23rd to August 8th, 2032, in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

Closing note

She signed off by stating, “For Paris 2024, we will use 95 percent of existing or temporary venues, for Milano Cortina – 93 percent, LA it is 100 percent of existing and temporary venues, and for Brisbane 2032, 85 percent of existing or temporary venues will be used, a little bit less than the others but there is a good reason here in terms of demographics. Brisbane is going through a very quick movement of growth and they have long-term plans that require new infrastructure but among the new venues they have four of them will be community centers. They will repeat the kind of success they have enjoyed in the Commonwealth Games and will repeat the configuration for the Games.”

Tania Braga has a purpose which gets her on her feet and her drive – so apparent from her cherubic nature – keep propelling her forward to achieve great things in life.

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