On the spot

 Kai Wegner

Mayor of Berlin, Germany

The World Union of Olympic Cities and its Members are really pleased to welcome Berlin, host of the 1936 Summer Olympic Games, as a new Member of the association. What do you expect from this membership?

It is a great honour for Berlin to now be a Member of the World Union of Olympic Cities community. We are looking forward to a valuable exchange of experiences and on future developments, such as potential new Olympic sports, with the other Members of the Union. For the sports capital of Berlin, this will provide important impetus for us as a venue if the DOSB submits a bid to host the Olympic Games.

The Games are known in world history as a controversial event instrumentalised by the Nazis. How does Berlin handle its Olympic legacy today?

The sports capital of Berlin is aware of the historical legacy from 1936 and teaches this through various educational programmes organised by different institutions. Since 2006, for instance, there has been historical documentation at Olympiapark. Guided tours and audio guides make the history of the site accessible to visitors. Both the Olympiapark Sports Museum and the Sports Museum offer workshops about the history of the site. The future permanent exhibition at Olympiapark will deal intensively with the history of sport in Berlin, including under National Socialism. For young visitors, the Sports Museum has produced a graphic novel on the history of Olympiapark. For the younger generations especially, it is important to engage with the past so that they can recognise negative or dangerous tendencies in the present better.

How is sport integrated in Berlin’s policy as a tool for education, social inclusion, tourism, economic development?

The goal of Berlin’s sports policy is to integrate as many people as possible into Berlin’s sports programme in the interests of a health-oriented lifestyle and active and harmonious community. Organised sport is the crucial foundation for the wide range of sporting activities on offer. Clubs and their activities serve as a local contact point for children and young people, but also a meeting place for different generations and people from a wide range of cultures, and as such provide good conditions for practicing democratic values, inclusion and integration. Sport thus makes an important contribution towards all sections of the population participating in society. Regular national and international sports events are also sure-fire magnets for sports fans from all over the world. As such, sport in Berlin has been an important factor for business and tourism for the city for a long time too.

As a true sports city, Berlin regularly hosts major sports events. What are the City’s criteria and priorities in terms of event hosting?

Major top-level sports events shine the spotlight on Berlin as a capital of sport, but also on sport itself. Berlin sponsors numerous national and international sports events every year. Important criteria here are the positive contribution to the sports event and to the city’s community beyond the event itself, as well as environmental friendliness. A shining example of this was the Berlin 2023 Special Olympics World Games, for which an extensive “Inclusion ‘23” fringe programme was developed. The sports capital of Berlin is currently preparing intensively for UEFA’s Euro 2024 and 31 days of events. Berlin is the venue for the final match. UEFA’s Euro 2024 in Berlin will set new benchmarks for sustainable events – socially, environmentally and economically.

What would you like to share with the Union’s Members both in terms of activation of Olympic values and challenges to use sport as an efficient policy leverage for education, health, social and economic development and tourism?

In the sports capital of Berlin, our slogan is “Do sport and experience sport”. This is because sport, like almost no other area, provides impetus for social interaction, but also for the attractiveness of a city and how nice it is to live there. The challenges of the future will include developing barrier-free sports facilities and sustainable concepts for sports events and sports activities in the city.
The Berlin 2023 Special Olympics World Games were the biggest global sports event since the 1972 Olympic Games in Germany. These World Games showed us what the Olympic and Paralympic Games could potentially mean in Germany. Because Olympic values such as a love of sport, fair and peaceful competition and tolerant and harmonious interaction transcending all nationalities and differences were front and centre. We saw how sport can reach people all over the world. We want to bring these unique experiences of togetherness and openness to the world to the city once again. The Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games could bring these positive impacts and the love of sport back to life again even more. I see Berlin as a strong potential candidate to host the Olympic and Paralympic Games.