Olympic Legacy: A Comparison of Barcelona 1992 and Athens 2004


  • Emma Nunan
  • William O'Brien Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College Florida Atlantic University


Olympics, Olympic Games, Barcelona, Spain, Athens, Greece, legacy, heritage


Hosting an Olympic Games has a major impact on a city and its people. I compared the Barcelona 1992 and Athens 2004 approaches to “legacy,” the lasting impacts of a Games. In Olympic circles, few cities live up to the long-term planning standard set by Barcelona, especially in urban regeneration. However, most scholars agree that Athens did not plan for the post-Games period as effectively as they could have. Barcelona had better organization and cooperation, while the Athens organizers and the Greek government disagreed on various issues. Political disagreements prevented Athens from utilizing their Games as much as they could have and delayed any benefits for the city. Barcelona had a much more concentrated plan for their venues and improvements, whereas Athens venues were dispersed throughout the city. Barcelona was better able to make strong improvements to areas of the city that needed it most. Though Athens wanted to leave a positive legacy and did in many ways, they were not as focused on that aspect. Athens shined in the concept of “héritage,” which encompasses bringing the past into the present as a “legacy.” Because of their unique past, they were able to bring historical meaning to their Olympic Games.

Author Biography

Emma Nunan

Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College
Florida Atlantic University