Celebrations: Celebrating the Past to Prepare the Future

“Holding an Olympic Games means evoking history.”

Baron Pierre de Coubertin

The Olympic Games are a global celebration of sport and Olympic values. Celebrations are an occasion to “re-live the dream”.

To keep the flame alive once the Games are over, Cities have to call upon the strength of symbols. Hosting the Games sustainably transforms a city and not only from an urban perspective. There are many ways to celebrate the Olympic past and evoke the history after the Games.

Celebrations of the Olympic Games allow a city to showcase its uniqueness as a city as well as the uniqueness of host cities compared to other cities. They are not limited to a “back to the past” interlude but include a projection into the future.

Among all legacy activation activities, the specificity of celebrations and commemorations is that they are de facto linked to a specific date and moment (one day; one month; one year). They are limited in time and by nature “one-shot” events even if they are one-year long.

Last but not least, celebrations focus on the local dimension of the Games: they are first designed for and by their local citizens and representatives and allow these people to reconnect with “their“ Games which were first dedicated to the entire world. Without world media coverage, they celebrate a local/regional territory and local spots.

However, celebrations also encompass broader targets; are attractive to tourists; and are an opportunity to animate the city and design beyond sport events such as cultural festivities, academic conferences, historical commemorations and educational projects.

Celebrations are often an excellent opportunity to look and think forwardly. Anniversaries are the most powerful way to commemorate a past edition of the Games, as exemplified by the cases presented in this chapter. However, they are not the only type of celebration possible and many others are yet to be explored.