‘Refurbishing existing venues make more sense’



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Tania Braga at Coliseum Europe 2023 Image: Coliseum GSVA

Tania Braga speaks with a lot of eloquence and her flow of thoughts is spontaneous and she comes across as a spontaneous thinker too.

Tania Braga is presently associated with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Switzerland and oversees the implementation of the IOC Legacy Strategic Approach. She holds expertise in areas of sustainability and corporate responsibility.

Tania Braga, Head of Legacy, IOC, Switzerland, in an animated conversation with Andy Simons, Founding Director, KSS, UK, points out that that the Games Host Nation/City should go ahead with building venues only if there will be effective use of the facility later. She advises that building new venues should largely be avoided and the existing ones should be spruced up. ‘Coliseum’ brings the details.

Andy Simons is a Founder Director of KSS and a major creative force within the practise giving lead design direction on a number of KSS’ major projects.
 

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.
 

KSS

The KSS is an award-winning AJ100 chartered architecture, interior and graphic design practise based in Central London and Sevenoaks, Kent (UK). KSS specialize in the design of major sports venues and training facilities, educational projects and residential developments, and have a reputation for providing high-quality design backed by sound commercial judgment and a client-focused professional service.
 

Summer Olympic Games

The Summer Olympic Games, also known as the Games of the Olympiad, and often referred to as the Summer Olympics, is a major international multisport event normally held once every four years. The inaugural Games took place in 1896 in Athens, Greece, and the most recent Games were held in 2021 in Tokyo, Japan.
 

Winter Olympics

The Winter Olympic Games is a major international multisport event held once every four years for sports practised on snow and ice. The first Winter Olympic Games, the 1924 Winter Olympics, were held in Chamonix, France.

Tania Braga tells Andy Simons that each edition of the Olympic Games comes with its own distinctive flavor – “There are venues which are more than 100 years old which are still being used by the local communities. Each edition of the Games has its own surprise elements.”

Simons feels that Tokyo 2020 was “incredibly successful” despite being pushed to July 2021 due to the outbreak of COVID-19 – the biggest disaster faced by mankind. Braga echoed his views and said that in terms of the number of viewers it was “definitely a huge success. Tokyo 2020 had 3.1 billion viewers. The three lessons learned from Tokyo 2020 was flexibility, simplification and team spirit. For Tokyo 2020, we really had to keep things to the bare essentials and it was a no-frills affair and the same is being replicated for Paris 2024 and Milano Cortina 2026. And the third lesson learnt was the team spirit. With the COVID onslaught, Tokyo 2020 would not have been possible without the cooperation of different entities in Japan like the international sports federations, the National Olympic Committees, the athletes, etc.”
 

Tokyo 2020

The 2020 Summer Olympics, officially the Games of the XXXII Olympiad and also known as Tokyo 2020, was an international multisport event held from July 23rd-August 8th, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan.
 

Paris 2024

The 2024 Summer Olympics and commonly known as Paris 2024, is an upcoming international multisport event that is scheduled to take place from July 26th-August 11th, 2024 with Paris (France) as its main Host City and 16 Cities spread across Metropolitan France and one in Tahiti – an island within the French overseas country and overseas collectivity of French Polynesia – as a subsite.
 

Milano Cortina 2026

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-22nd, 2026 in Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo (Italy).

Simon feels that Tokyo 2020 has changed the viewing pattern (triggered by coronavirus) and people now are more used to couch viewing rather than going in-person to the venue. Braga concurred that COVID did accelerate the digitalization exercise globally and people today are used to watching games too not in front of their conventional television sets but more on their mobiles. At the same time, she pointed out that the “Games since 1932 have always been more of a distance viewing affair rather than spectators’ presence in- person in stadia”.

Simons was quick to point out that no matter whatever the digital experience might be but the in-person attendance of fans in stadia to watch games/events/concerts, the chants and the ambience that it generates can never be replaced by the “audio-visual special effects”.

Braga further pointed out that though hosting Olympics Games is a very expensive affair, nevertheless, there is still “huge appetite” among the countries to host the most prestigious event on the planet (Summer Olympics). However, she stated that the same could not be said about the Winter Olympics where there are a lot of challenges involved over “climatic conditions”.

She added, “Hosting the Olympics may be a pocket-pinching affair, but one must also look into the handsome revenue which it rakes in.”

Braga made a pertinent point, “The IOC never asks the Host to build a venue with more capacity. The Host country should go for constructing venues only if it is absolutely necessary because the construction industry adds a lot to the emissions.”

She continued, “The IOC also looks into the local needs of the people and we provide a lot of flexibility like combining different sports in the same venue, looking at the schedule how it is built, the size of the venue, and the introduction of new sports. We allow a lot of breathing space to the Host.”

Simons felt that sustainability and legacy should be high on the IOC’s assessment criteria.

Continuing with the venue construction topic, Braga stated that the IOC accords top priority to the sustainability and legacy factors. She was all praise for the Paris 2024 authorities as they are “smart” enough to build just one new venue and are redecorating the existing ones.

Tania Braga concluded by citing numbers, “If we look at all the 51 Olympic Games (Summer and Winter) we find that 85 percent of the venues are still in use including very old ones. One must think about the climate urgency and the emissions associated with the Games, construction is a big part of it. So, why not give new life to the existing venues instead of building a new one?”

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