Call for Papers: Olympic Legacies and Sustainable Urban Development

The Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) is delighted to announce that the 2013 Annual International Conference will return to the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) in London.

  • Location: Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) and Imperial College London
  • Dates: Wednesday 28 to Friday 30 August 2013 (with an opening event on Tuesday 27 August 2013)
  • Theme: New geographical frontiers
  • Conference chair: Jonathan Rigg (Durham University)

Please visit the conference homepage.

olympic-legacySession Title: Olympic Legacies and Sustainable Urban Development

(Sponsored by the Planning and Environment Research Group (PERG)).


Call for Papers

Creating lasting and sustainable (positive) legacies has become an increasingly important aspect for any city intending to host the Olympic Games, especially since positive legacies have been included as one of the core aims of the Olympic Movement, enshrined in the Olympic Charter.

However, despite the recent proliferation of “legacy promises”, especially leading up to the London 2012 Olympic Games, actual legacy outcomes after the mega-event vary widely and methods and measures of evaluating, measuring and assessing the legacy outcomes are still being developed (e.g. Olympic Games Impact Study for London 2012).

Olympic Games have undoubtedly a significant impact on urban development, e.g. by resulting in new or improved transport infrastructure and sport facilities. However, the necessary investments are also significant. Host cities, local organising committees, governments and the IOC hence all have vested interests in emphasising the lasting positive outcomes (legacies) of “their Games”.

Furthermore, host cities might attempt to develop holistic planning strategies with the aim of capturing some of the value created through the hosting of the Olympic Games and thus “plan for lasting legacies”.

Yet, one might wonder, haven’t all Olympic Games left behind a legacy in the host city/cities? Considering the definition of legacy as “(1) an amount of property or money left in a will; (2) something handed on or left unfinished by a past owner or predecessor” (Chambers Dictionary, 2012), might not even the negative legacy of huge debts (Montreal 1976), the intangible legacy of raised international awareness (Seoul 1988) or the financial profit made by private investors (Atlanta 1996) be considered Olympic legacies?

Taking the long view back, one might also ask whether previous Olympic host cities have not always tried to achieve long-term profits or advantages from hosting the games long before the term legacy became fashionable. How does the concept of “legacies” differ from “sustainability” or other concepts of urban planning used before Rio 1992 and the Agenda 21?

The session is open to theoretical as well as empirical reflections on the concept of “legacy”. We welcome contributions reflecting critically on the idea of “planning legacies” or dealing critically with the reality of urban regeneration in the aftermath of the mega-event. But we are just as well interested in contributions that deal with positive examples or cases of best practice of achieving positive social, urban, and environmental legacies.

Abstract Submission

If you would like to contribute to this session please send your abstract of not more than 250 words to or by Wednesday, the 6th February 2013.

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