Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Explore the Olympic Venues


For the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, there are 37 venues. Thirty-seven! With 42 sports and over 300 events,  no wonder they need so many buildings.

Olympic venues have become highly controversial over the years as venues from past Games have fallen into disrepair.




Spotlight on Select Venues

Maracanã Stadium

The centerpiece of the Olympic Games
Not all Olympic venues are new; the Maracanã Stadium is a pre-existing building that was first opened in 1950 for the FIFA World Cup. In addition to the 1950 FIFA World Cup, this stadium has also been home to the 2007 Pan American Games, 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup, and the 2014 World Cup. Other events have also been held there, including concerts by Madonna and Sting, and masses held by the Pope.

The venue for the Opening Ceremonies of an Olympic Games is incredibly important because the casual viewer may only ever see this stadium, and even then only for a short period of time. The look of the venue and its functionality are equally important (see: Beijing's Bird's Nest). I think the look of the stadium is interesting and I am most excited to see where the cauldron will go and how it might be updated even further for the 2016 Games.

Olympic Golf Course

Golf has not been played at the Olympic Games since 1904
I'll be up-front about this in the beginning: I am a golfer and have worked at a few different golf courses, in addition to living on a golf course for most of my adolescence. With that being said, I'm not certain that golf screams "Olympic sport" to me. If we are looking at Olympic sports of the future, there are a few benchmarks that I believe a sport needs to hit.

1. Accessible to all- this can mean both athletes (are there barriers like expensive equipment or training facilities?) and viewers (is it easy enough to understand?)
2. Venues that can be disassembled or otherwise used for the greater public
3. Classically in the spirit of the Olympics

I concede that number three is a little immeasurable, but golf seems to fail the first two marks for me. I gew up playing golf and though there are ways to get secondhand clubs, but greens fees alone can be prohibitive for most players. Additionally, there will be no dismantling of this golf course as far as I can tell. There are already places to play golf in Rio and in the midst of an economic recession, my guess is that a golf course is not the best use of green space. However, I am interested to see how the final course looks and if there are any interesting twists or golfers who have not previously competed at an Olympic level now able to participate on the world stage.

For a preview of the Olympic golf course, click here. 

Future Arena

Home of handball.
First of all, yes, handball is an Olympic sport (who knew? I certainly have never seen a game...)
A little like naming a building "temporary building," the name "Future Arena" leaves much to be desired. It feels unfinished, and that is perhaps the point. Unlike other venues, this building will be completely dismantled at the end of the Games and will be used for the construction of four state schools in the city. We will go into more depth below about venues being repurposed beyond the Games, because this is one of the most pressing questions of sustainability of the Olympic Games. 

Use them wisely...


If you search "Olympic venues" on Google, it is no surprise that the first articles that pop up describe the now derelict venues of Games past. Venues are the most visible way that the Games touch the host country, and stay long after the last athlete has left and turned off the lights. 

The city that is left after the Olympics leave should be more important than the Games themselves, and the venues need to be properly thought out from the very beginning. Venues can be planned to be partially or completely disassembled, depending on the needs of the area.

What about building an aquatic center that can be repurposed into a water park? (Beijing)


Or, what about using the Olympics as an opportunity to revitalize an area of the city that needs attention, like Barcelona's waterfront?

This kind of thoughtfulness is imperative to a world where population continues to grow exponentially, resources are becoming more scarce, and financial markets are volatile. 

For more information and eerie photos of venues lost to the wilderness, visit Business Insider or the Today Show report.

Are they ready?


None of this seems relevant with the big red light glaring: are the venues going to be ready in time? Among a host of issues (environmental, financial, zika, and more), the venues have to be completed before the Olympics roll in. They aren't the first to struggle with this issue; most recently, Sochi had a tough time getting it together before the Games. Reporters and athletes en masse tweeted about the laughable conditions in the hotels.

With just under two months left to prepare, we can only cross our fingers for the scramble that will ensue and hold our breath until the curtain opens on the first South American Games.





For bonus points, visit The Olympic City documentary project. And send me a copy of the book, please!


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