The Olympic Games shape metropolises and the culture of planning

Tribune. Tokyo 2020 – now Tokyo 2021 due to the postponement of the Olympic Games following the Covid-19 pandemic -, Beijing 2022, Paris 2024, Milan 2026, Los Angeles 2028 … Alternating every two years between summer and summer sessions. he winter, the Olympic Games are itinerant sporting events but firmly rooted in the territories. While the Japanese session will be without any public because of the epidemic, these Olympics raise many controversies as to their (over) sizing.

Since their modern refoundation by Pierre de Coubertin in 1896, the Olympic Games have evolved a lot. For athletes and spectators, the challenges of sports competition remain predominant. But the sporting event has also become an urban event which transforms the development of host cities, and explains, in part, the growth in costs to be borne by local communities.

Between sport, planning, sporting and urban competition, the Olympic Games are at the heart of complex political, social and economic dynamics around which crystallize popular criticism and fascinations.

The Olympics, urban accelerators for metropolises

Just like Paris 2024 or Tokyo 2021, the host cities are selected after an international competition in which the quality of sports and event infrastructure is no longer the only criterion for awarding the Games: that of urban infrastructure, including networks. , buildings or even green spaces, have become just as important, as has the attention paid to the environment and to the future of the equipment built.

In this sense, the promises of the future for the host country count as much as the inclusion of the Olympic Games in the dynamics initiated prior to their being held. It is this basic concern that was lacking in Paris during its unsuccessful campaign against London for the 2012 Games. At the time, the British capital had already largely advanced its reflections on the ambitious development project. of Greater London, as reflections on Greater Paris stalled. It was not until its maturity that the French candidacy won the 2024 Games a decade later.

The situation is similar for Tokyo which, after the failure of its candidacy against Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) for the 2016 Games, was able to win those of 2020 thanks to the experience accumulated by more than ten years of urban renaissance. The Olympic Games do not therefore stimulate new development dynamics, but are part of long-term development projects, that is to say in pre-existing dynamics that they amplify and accelerate but do not create. .

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