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1992  Barcelona Summer Olympics

1992 Summer Olympics - How the games were organized

How the games were organized

Human resources

A Human Resources Plan was devised every year from 1987 to the end of the Barcelona’’92 Olympic Games. The Human Resources Plan, the Master Plan and the Budget were the three forecast instruments for setting targets. Employment services were initially outsourced, but a team was later created within the Organising Committee for the Barcelona’’92 Olympic Games (COOB’’92). Formed by 15 professionals, that team was responsible for personnel management tasks.

In 1991, the total number of employees was 1,078. However, six and a half months before the Olympic Games, the number of employees rose to 5,956. Given that employment was temporary, the workforce was generally very young. In addition to their work, they were able to benefit from a number of opportunities that the organisation offered, such as language and office automation training, and the option to buy tickets and sponsoring companies’ merchandise at a discount.

The cost of human resources selection and training processes amounted to €3.95 million (658 million Pesetas) and, from 1989 to the post-Games settlement period, the budget allocated to personnel amounted to €629 million (104.67 billion Pesetas). One of the main challenges of the human resources team was the coordination of the volunteers’ unpaid work. So, in order to make that task easier, the Team’’92 unit was created to act as a bridge between both groups.

Volunteers’92

In the bidding stage, the Barcelona’’92 project had 60,000 registered volunteers from all over Spain, a figure that increased to 102,000 in late 1986 after Barcelona had been nominated the host city.

The volunteer training plan, funded by the vehicle manufacturer SEAT (one of the official sponsors of Barcelona’92), was divided into three stages: general training on the Olympic project, Olympism and sport (given through courses, interviews, conferences and film screenings); specific training for the assigned workplace; and finally, training at the respective facilities to learn about the spaces and meet the operations team.

In addition to the training plan, there was a motivational plan that aimed to develop and maintain the volunteers’ enthusiasm and pride in being just that: volunteers. This included merchandising gifts for volunteers, study grants, a weekly radio programme and the magazine Voluntaris’’92, which was distributed free of charge to the 102,000 volunteers.

Finally, the process of selecting and affiliating each volunteer to a work area was done by means of a survey carried out in close collaboration with the functional division of COOB’’92 (Organising Committee for the Barcelona Olympic Games). The final outcome of the process was the recruitment of 35,000 volunteers for the Olympic Games and 15,000 volunteers for the Paralympic Games.

Media

The ever-greater protagonism of the media in each new edition of the Olympic Games continued to grow during the XXVth Olympiad. In order to meet the needs of the press, radio and television, the Olympic host broadcaster RTO’’92 (Radio i Televisió Olímpica de Barcelona’’92) was formed. The broadcaster channelled an investment of €101.57 million (16.9 billion Pesetas) for that purpose.

The place where journalists and press photographers were taken care of was the Main Press Centre situated in the Communications Media Centre within the Montjuïc trade fair complex. This is also where the International Broadcasting Centre was located, with a total area of nearly 100,000 square meters.

In addition, each sports area had its own specific centre where journalists and media professionals could provide coverage of the Olympic Games. To be precise, RTO’’92 accredited 140 broadcasters (radio and television), which included 1,500 commentator posts, a figure that almost doubled that of the previous Olympic Games.

Miquel de Moragas i Spa (1992) described the Barcelona’’92 Olympic Games as “The Communication Games” in an article published just before they were held. A reason for this was the enormous growth in revenue from television broadcast rights and the definitive expansion of sponsorship policies through which the corporate image of the mega event was sold. During the XXVth Olympiad, the Olympic media system took a further step towards the essential protagonism that the media now have in the Games.

Technology

The technology used throughout Barcelona’’92 was the most advanced at that time. Since it was a very important factor for the proper execution of the event, the Olympic Office commissioned the BIT’’92 report (Barcelona Informatics and Telecommunications). By 1989, all the services had been outsourced to a range of companies. At the same time, every effort was made to ensure that those companies would acquire the status of sponsors to increase their degree of engagement in the XXVth Olympiad. The implementation of a system to test the whole organisational structure during competitions held in 1991 was very important.

Regarding the information systems, the projects defined by COOB’’92 (Organising Committee for the Barcelona Olympic Games) were divided into five sections: information technology architecture and installations; AMIC (Multiple Access to Information and Communication to enable users to consult all available information, from event results to the weather); SIGO (Information System for the Management of Operations such as accommodation, accreditations, travel, etc.); internal information (business management and office automation); and the Alcatel project, which enabled real-time international connections, for use mainly by the media and other specialist users.

In terms of telecommunications, public and private telecommunications projects were planned in accordance with the specific needs of broadcasting; of radiocommunications projects (with a major presence of paging systems and a pioneering mobile telephony network); of electronics and sound (including sound during competitions, track instruments and displays, and the internal Olympic Family channel); and of electronic security (access control, closed-circuit surveillance systems, etc.).

Telecommunications

The Olympic Games is an event that puts exceptional demands on telecommunications. There were three key factors in the structuring of the telecommunications: the users, the sites and the purposes for which they were to be used there. The number of users determined the dimensioning of the telecommunications systems and networks. The number and location of the sites determined the geographical scope of the network of fixed services and the coverage of the mobile services. The type of use determined the type of information and communication and the support required, whether voice, data, images or control signals.

It was necessary to provide networks for private use within the territorial units and to integrate them into public networks inorder to link them with the rest of the world. Hence, the media at Barcelona’92 could transmit the results of the competitions around the world from their commentary positions, from the press areas and from the television cameras and studios. A variety of transmission methods was used, including fibre optic,coaxial and parallel cables, radio links,satellites and infra-red.

The initial studies helped to define the projects that constituted the architecture. The Barcelona Computing and Telecommunications Study (BIT’92) laid down a general framework for its development. Later, the COOB’92 Master Plan identified, with the corresponding budget allocation, each of the projects that was later to be implemented in the organisational phase. These projects were divided into three project areas:

  • Public telecommunications

This area consisted of the following projects: final service terminals, services with direct access to the public network, tariffs and usage, and transmission services. The common denominator of all these services was their support by the Telefónica public network.

  • Private telecommunications

The Olympic telephone network was a key project that provided exclusive voice and data communication for the Olympic organisation throughout the geographical area in which the Games took place.

  • Radio communications

This are consisted of three projects: mobile radio communications, the paging system and wavelength management.

(Text taken from the Official Report of the Barcelona ’92 Games)

Results management

Results management was one of the main tasks of the technology division. The company EDS was commissioned to develop a specific software program for it. The Organising Committee for the Barcelona’’92 Olympic Games (COOB’’92) wanted to use a single centralised database for its operations. It also wanted all the information on the Olympic Family (the AMIC system) to be included in that database; competition registrations were therefore a kind of intermediate stage between the accreditations program and the results management program.

For the results management aspect, the SIR (Results Information System) project was developed and eventually led to the “Document” software program. “Document” was rolled out via a series of touch-screen terminals that allowed users to access and print out the results. The application was created to centralise the daily data of every competition and to serve as the backbone of the SICO (radio and television Commentators Information System) so that journalists at the press centres could get hold of the results as quickly as possible.

To ensure it operated properly, specialist personnel was required. So people with the appropriate training were taken on specifically for the event to guarantee connections between the results control devices on the tracks, fields and pitches, and the information that appeared on the screens. A total of 1,097 workers was allocated to this operation, which used 2,000 PCs, 605 “Document” terminals and 155 “Document” servers, and provided more than 15 million photocopies of competition results.

Transport

The Organising Committee for the Barcelona’’92 Olympic Games (COOB’’92) created a specific Transport Department to rise to the mobility challenge posed by any Olympic Games. The many different needs of the Olympic Family had to be met: travel to and from training and official events, and arrivals in and departures from the city.

On average, 40,000 people were moved around every day. To ensure the smooth running of the operation, all the city’’s public transport mechanisms were coordinated and all members of the Olympic Family were accredited so that they could use public transport at no extra cost. A sponsorship agreement was also entered into with the Spanish railways operator RENFE to meet the travel needs of those members of the Olympic Family staying in the Salou and Cambrils areas. In addition, a fleet of various kinds of vehicles was specifically formed for the Olympic Games.

There were 100 coach routes for the athletes’ daily travel needs, as well as 472 other kinds of vehicles (cars and minibuses) for discretionary use by each National Olympic Committee. Likewise, transport was provided for referees and judges, and there were 89 bus routes for media professionals.

Apart from the chauffeurs of official vehicles forming part of the fleet for dignitaries, all the drivers were Olympic volunteers. The total cost of road and rail transport between the various Olympic venues and sites was €37 million (6.17 billion Pesetas).

Security

The High Commission for Olympic Security was created on 15 June 1987. That Commission and the Organising Committee for the Barcelona’’92 Olympic Games (COOB’’92) jointly devised a security model for the Games of the XXVth Olympiad. The Master Plan for Olympic Security stated that each responsible body, from the State’s security forces to COOB’’92 itself, should set up its own Olympic Security Office.

The basic security plan was drafted to finalise the definition of the task force methodology, such as the operational level and the coordination required among all the security forces, which nevertheless kept their respective command structures.

Three levels of security with three command centres (CEMAN) were set up, each of which was supported by its own coordination centre (CECOR). First level tasks included sports facility or venue security; second level tasks included the coordination of operations within a territorial or functional area (transport for dignitaries, special risk delegations, etc.); and third level tasks included the management of security for the whole event.

It is worth noting that one of the most important security aspects, access control, was managed directly by COOB’’92, with qualified personnel wearing standard clothing, which helped to maintain the corporate image of the Barcelona’’92 Olympic Games.

Doping control

s specified in the Olympic rules, anti-doping control units were set up at every competition venue during the XXVth Olympiad. In total, there were five cases of athletes that tested positive in anti-doping controls, four of whom were competitors in athletics events.

In fact, there were 274 anti-doping tests specifically for athletics events, most of which were conducted randomly. As a general rule, an anti-doping test is conducted on the winner and three runners-up of each athletics event. However, in the relay, just one member of the winning team and of the three runners-up was chosen unless a world record had been beaten, in which case every member of the team was tested.

Three of the positive cases were detected in athletes that had come fourth in their respective competitions: the Unified Team representative Madina Biktaguirova in the marathon, the American Jud Logan in the hammer throw and the Lithuanian Nijole Medvedeva in the long jump. All of them were stripped of their titles. The randomly selected athletes who tested positive were the American athlete Bonnie Dan and the Chinese Dan Wu from the Chinese volleyball team. Anti-doping controls were carried out by the General Medical Services based in the main building of the Red Cross in Barcelona.

Healthcare

The first action on healthcare matters taken by the Organising Committee for the Barcelona’’92 Olympic Games (COOB’’92) was to elaborate the Olympic healthcare plan (PASO’’92). The criteria on which it was based were those established by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the medical code set out under Rule 48 of the Olympic Charter.

An inter-institutional committee was therefore formed by the public healthcare organisations of the Government of Catalonia, Barcelona City Council, the Government of Spain and the Spanish Olympic Committee. A specific Coordinating Medical Centre was set up for the Olympic Games period, which managed five basic areas: outpatient and inpatient care; accidents, emergencies and transport; medical checkups and public health; and medical laboratories (responsible for anti-doping tests).

The medical services were divided into two: a sports unit for those taking part in the Olympic Games and a non-sports unit for the general public. Three general hospitals were made available for the Olympic Villages, and each hospital had to prepare specifically for the event. In total, there were 2,541 employees allocated to the medical care of athletes, and an additional 1,392 to that of the general public. All members of the medical team were specifically trained in accident and emergency medicine and sports medicine, in accordance with the requirements of a mega event of this type. During the Olympic Games, there was a total of 15,706 medical care interventions.

Public relations

The promotion of the Games

COOB’92 considered that certain aspects of the organisation of the Games of the XXV Olympiad should be brought to public attention and support given to a number of events related to them and to the particular identity of Barcelona’92, such as informative exhibitions, visits to the facilities, the cartoon series with Cobi as the leading character or the promotion campaigns.

The travelling exhibition. The campaign Barcelona’92, everyone’s goal: the Olympic project in your city, based on a travelling exhibition inside an inflatable replica of the Olympic Stadium, visited all the capitals of the autonomous communities in 1990, just as the Olympic Bus had done during the Candidature phase.

The permanent exhibition. At the end of 1990, COOB’92 drafted a project for a permanent exhibition at the Olympic Stadium. It was called Olympic Barcelona and was opened on 13 March 1991 to coincide with the celebration of the 500 days left before the Games.


Relations with the media

COOB’92 was always aware of the importance of the media to the success of the Olympic Games. At the Candidature stage, they had played a fundamental role, insofar as they were a vehicle for the enthusiasm of society for the choice of Barcelona as host city. During that phase the Press Department was set up and integrated into the Image and Communication Division. It was responsible for establishing COOB’92 communications policy and applying it in relations with the media.

The Press Department defined different levels of relations and activities, according to the location of the media (Barcelona-Catalonia, the rest of Spain and abroad). In all cases permanent, personal communication was provided, fundamentally by telephone. Moreover, there were a wide range of information activities produced regularly by COOB’92 and addressed to the media: briefings (press conferences and work sessions), publications (a daily bulletin, a weekly newsletter and a press dossier which was updated every six months), PR events (organised visits, tours of inspection and presentations) and a welcome campaign (for receiving reporters and supplying them with the information they needed on the days leading up to the Games).

Public information

In view of the public interest aroused by the Olympic Games all around the world and the avalanche of requests for general and particular information which had to be answered without disturbing the work of the divisions in charge of each subject, the Public Information Department was set up in the Image and Communication Division.

Its objective was to inform the general public and spectators about all matters directly connected with the Olympic organisation (sales of tickets, accommodation, commercial rights, visits to the venues, calendar, volunteers, competitors and so on) and about the public activities and services related to the Games.

The channels used to send the information were the telephone, the post, the fax, personal attention and publications for mass distribution.


The Official Film

In the contract signed with the IOC in Lausanne on 17 October 1987, the Barcelona organisation undertook to make the Official Film for the 1992 Games. The copyright would belong to the IOC, which would cede the rights to commercial exploitation to COOB’92 or the producers of the film for a period of four years. COOB’92 decided later to entrust the project to a producer who would assume all expenses involved in financing, production and distribution.

After studying the proposals, COOB’92 chose the one presented jointly by three Spanish production companies: Group Films, Iberoamericana Films Internacional and Lola Films. Their project was a documentary called Marathon, which also included elements of historical reconstruction and drama and was to be directed by High Hudson, who had made Chariots of Fire.

However, Just a few weeks before shooting was due to start, Hugh Hudson abandoned the project over differences with Ibergroup and for personal reasons. Carlos Saura was then hired to direct the film.

The hiring of Saura brought changes to the plan for Marathon. The script was modified: the narrators were removed and attention was centred mostly on the universe of the competitor. Moreover, after attending the opening ceremony, Saura decided to do the reconstruction of the Battle of Marathon with La Fura dels Baus, who joined the production team.

Protocol

From the moment it was created, the COOB’92 External Relations Division guided the activities connected with organising and managing the programmes of services for the members of the Olympic Family who would be visiting Barcelona during the period leading up to the Games and, in particular, personal attention to the members of the IOC, VIPs and Spanish and foreign dignitaries. The division was also responsible for drafting the protocol project for the Barcelona’92 Olympic Games.

The characteristics of the Barcelona Games and the special circumstances surrounding them -among which we should mention both the fact that
they coincided with other events held in Spain, such as the second summit of Latin American heads of state, the year of Madrid as cultural capital of Europe and Expo’92 in Sevilla and the easing of tension on the international political scene, which manifested itself in an unprecedented number of countries and sportsmen and women taking part- meant that Barcelona became a meeting point for dignitaries and VIPs from all over the world.

The protocol project was shaped with the cooperation of the State protocol services, the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the IOC.

According to the organisational criteria fixed by COOB’92, a decentralised structure was chosen with protocol departments integrated into the organisation chart of each unit.

(Text taken from the Official Report of the Barcelona ’92 Games)

Publications

As a result of the ever-greater role of the media and the hitches observed at earlier Olympic Games, the Organising Committee for the Barcelona’’92 Olympic Games (COOB’’92) decided to create a specific Publications Department to take charge of supervising and ensuring the consistency of everything that was published. I

n the first instance, the Yves Zimmerman studio was commissioned to come up with a unique, uniform design for all COOB’92 publications. For internal publications such as weekly press releases, internal reports for the Olympic Family, etc., an agreement was entered into with Rank-Xerox. As a collaborating partner of COOB’’92, that company set up a Publications Centre that benefitted from highly efficient technology.

For external publications, the official supplier of COOB’’92 was a large publisher. In accordance with the Olympic Charter, COOB’92 had to send an explanatory booklet for each sport to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the International Federations (IFs) and all the National Olympic Committees (NOCs) one year before the start of the Olympic Games. Due to the logistics involved, a specific Publications Plan was drafted, which covered every publication eventuality from books and posters to accreditations and stickers.

The major challenge, the outcome of which was a clear sign of the success of this section, was that all publications had to be in four languages: Catalan, Spanish, English and French. Hence the creation of the Language Services Department. After the Olympic Games, the Publications Centre continued working on the production of final reports and the Official Report. Then, the COOB’’92 publication holdings were automatically transferred to the archive of the Barcelona Olympic Foundation.

Language services

At an international event such as the Olympic Games, it is inevitable that a large number of languages will be used in many different situations. The Olympic Charter lays down that the Organising Committee must publish all the obligatory documents in the two official languages of the IOC (French and English) and the language of the host country. In the case of Barcelona, given the official bilingual status of the city as reflected in the Statutes of Autonomy of Catalonia, not one but two languages had to be added to those of the IOC; and so COOB’92, in agreement with all the institutions involved in the Olympic organisation, decided that the Barcelona Games would have four official languages: Catalan, Spanish, French and English.

This proliferation of languages called for a complex programme of services from the very beginning. To develop the programme, in January 1988 COOB’92 set up the Language Services Department inside the OlympicFamily Services Division. We should point out that this was the first time that an Organising Committee decided to treat the subject in depth four and a half years before the Games; in the end, this foresight was shown to have been more than justified.

The Language Services were organised in five sectors: translation and correction of texts, interpretation, announcers, style books and sports glossaries and language hosts. With time, and because of its inherent scope and characteristics, this last area became a separate department.

The XXVth Olympiad and the Catalan language

Speaking in background terms, regarding the COOB’92 language policy we must begin by the Olympic Office which was responsible for preparing the draft of the bid and that can be considered as the immediate predecessor of the Committee. Catalan was the language of habitual and natural work of the Olympic Office, and this meant that projects, reports and other documents were in that language and that the original wording of the Bid proposal would also be, therefore, in Catalan. This internal linguistic normality was independent of the debate on the language issue or the ultimately responsibles for the project political intentions and significantly influenced the natural course of preparing publications in four languages. Thus, the question of the official status of Catalan was not openly touched during the application process but a trend could be perceived.

In 1985 Josep Miquel Abad, CEO of the Barcelona Candidacy, appointed Alfred Bosch so he would deal with the language issues of the Olympic project. It was he who made contact with the Directorate General for Language Policy (DGPL) to develop a language policy for the Games which provided that Catalan was not only official language of the Games but had a prominent role and a dignified use.

(Text taken from the Official Report of the Barcelona ’92 Games and from “La XXVa Olimpíada i la llengua catalana” by Oriol Carbonell)

Environment

In order to understand the legacy of Barcelona’’92, it is vital to explain its relationship with today’’s challenging environmental situation. The year of the Barcelona’’92 Olympic Games was internationally important in environmental terms because the 1992 Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro established a series of protocols on matters of sustainability for the first time in history. The fact that the two major events were being held in the same year led to the “Earth Pact” between the United Nations (through the Earth Summit) and the Olympic Movement.

Within the powers of the Organising Committee for the Barcelona’’92 Olympic Games (COOB’’92) was the ability to offer tax incentives to companies that made donations for environmental issues (the total figure for tax incentives certified by COOB’’92 amounted to €1.33 billion or 221.5 billion Pesetas). The environmental impact of the Olympic Games was a hot topic at several pre-Games exhibitions on the development of different projects, and was particularly so at the “Beloved Earth” exhibition that welcomed more than 100,000 visitors.

After the Olympic Games, “Beloved Earth” travelled internationally. Once again, its focus was considered to be a key ingredient of the Olympic message first conveyed at Barcelona’’92. It should be said that the philosophy devised by Barcelona for the prioritisation of the city’’s needs —in terms not only of urban and infrastructure planning, but also of Olympic-facility spacing and subsequent use— constitutes a precedent for today’’s economic and environmental sustainability policies.

Meteorology

Weather forecasts are an indispensable element in planning and mounting the sports competitions successfully. For this reason, in April 1989, in agreement with COOB’92, the National Institute of Meteorology prepared the Meteorological Services Plan (PAMOB). This included the creation of the Olympic Meteorology Centre, which was constituted with the resources of the Meteorology Centre of Catalonia and other human and material resources from the National Institute of Meteorology.

The unique nature of the service required for the Barcelona Games was conditioned by three factors: space, as the sports events would be held mainly in and around Barcelona, but also in other subsites which were quite far away; time, as there were to be competitions on 15 consecutive days during the daytime and mostly simultaneous, which called for a wide range of weather forecasts and a large variet y and frequency of messages, and lastly, the high degree of sensitivity of some of the Olympic sporting events — especially the outdoor ones and most particularly the yachting competitions — to the values of meteorological parameters and their minimum variations, which required a great degree of precision both in observations and forecasts and high reliability in the operation of the support system.

Before the Games, the meteorological service provided information through a set of climatological studies about the climatological conditions at the sites of the competitions, which was crucial to the mid and long term planning of the preparation of the competitors and the organisation.

During the Games the information was broken down into four groups according to the type and the channel of supply: climatological information through the AMIC system, for the Olympic Family; direct telephone information at the COOB’92 Main Operations Centre; meteorological and oceanographic information for competitors, judges and the yachting events organisers, supplied personally through monitors in real time and information about conditions in the air space in the Barcelona area supplied by the CECAJO (Olympic Games Air Control Centre) for the air security operation.

Much of the work of processing texts and transmitting bulletins was done by Olympic volunteers, who provided invaluable help from 7.30 to 20.00 every day. As far as the operation is concerned, we should mention the anxiety provoked by the frequent rain that fell in Catalonia just a few days before the Games.

(Text taken from the Official Report of the Barcelona ’92 Games)

The funding sources

The Organising Committee’s original budget was estimated at 73.25 billion Pesetas in 1983, though it was set at 106.72 billion Pesetas (€641.4 million euro) in 1985. Adjusted in line with standard inflation, the latter figure amounted to 153.92 billion Pesetas (€925 million) in 1992.

Most of the budget (58%) was allocated to the organisation of the Olympic Games. The rest was allocated to the Organising Committee’s participation in facilities (18%, mostly sporting), to refurbishing/fitting-out various areas (14%) and to imponderables (10%). The prime objective of the economic model was that the Olympic Games should be self-funding and have a considerable involvement of local businesses. The budget’’s configuration, which was considered to have been successfully tailored in the final balance sheet, had been based on forecasts made by studying the results of earlier Olympic events.

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In terms of income that COOB’92 (Organising Committee for the Barcelona Olympic Games) received, sponsorship and licences amounted to €358.72 million (59.68 billion Pesetas), television broadcast rights to €337.55 million (56.16 billion Pesetas), participations and collections to €278.56 million (46.34 billion Pesetas), Olympic Family accommodation and services to €143.32 million (23.84 billion Pesetas), ticket sales to €56.81 million (9.45 billion Pesetas) and asset sales to €12.58 million (2.09 billion Pesetas).

It was felt that the total economic returns could only be recorded many years after the Olympic Games, bearing in mind that the celebration of the XXVth Olympiad would bring a series of social and cultural benefits that could only be valued in the medium and long terms.

The metamorphosis of the city

One of the main political objectives accompanying the organisation of XXVth Olympiad was that of taking full advantage of the event to drive forward Barcelona’’s urban renewal. Indeed, the Olympic Games were a pretext and a catalyst for doing so (Nel·lo, 1992).

The architect Oriol Bohigas was commissioned with the city’’s urban planning project, and he promoted a process of land reuse to make the urban space more balanced and equitable. Over time, the experience gained has been termed the ‘Barcelona model’, and it has been widely studied and globally disseminated as a Mediterranean example of urban development.

One of the main challenges in the Olympic period was to open up Barcelona to the sea. The reason for this was that little attention had been paid to the city’’s coastline, basically because old industrial neighbourhoods were situated in front of it. In the old fishing neighbourhood of the Barceloneta, the beach was almost exclusively used by a series of restaurants. However, advantage was taken of the imminent celebration of the Olympic Games to recover the whole beach for public use, from the Barceloneta to La Mar Bella.

The Parc de Mar Area underwent the greatest urban transformation, with the creation of the Vila Olímpica, the main Olympic Village of the Barcelona’92 Games. Since then, it has become another of the city’’s neighbourhoods, with its own services and communal life.

Olympic Villages

The Barcelona’92 Olympic Villages were designed in accordance with the provisions of the Olympic Charter: a place where athletes could live together throughout the Games. Consequently, Olympic Villages in Barcelona, La Seu d’’Urgell and Banyoles were planned and built (the latter two were sub-host cities for events held very far away from the capital, so it was considered expedient to build specific accommodation in them).

A further three Villages were built for the media, judges and referees because the shortage of hotel beds suggested that such facilities would be necessary. The Barcelona Olympic Village was designed to accommodate 15,000 people and was built in the Parc de Mar area. The land used was a brownfield site occupied by various derelict factories that was hard to get to and cut off from the city and the sea, mainly because it was surrounded by a network of railway lines.

To take the necessary urban redevelopment forward, a Special Urban Plan designed by the architects Josep Martorell, Oriol Bohigas, David Mackay and Albert Puigdomènech was approved in 1986. In the earlier stages, the Vila Olímpica S.A. (VOSA) company was incorporated, which was in charge of the execution of the works to build housing to accommodate athletes and officials. In 1989, along with other companies, this company was affiliated to a larger company belonging to the Spanish State and the City of Barcelona.

The outcome of the Barcelona Olympic Village was a new neighbourhood covering a total of 45 hectares, which finally became an urban complex with green spaces, an urban grid similar to Barcelona’’s Eixample district and 5.2 kilometres of recovered beaches for public use. The other two important Villages, one in Banyoles (130 kilometres from Barcelona) and the other in La Seu d’’Urgell (178 kilometres from Barcelona), had capacities for 1,012 and 300 people, respectively.

Highway Infrastructures

As part of the infrastructure investments made for the XXVth Olympiad, a plan to improve access to and mobility in the city was drawn up, the main aim of which was to decongest the highway network. Regarding the city’’s bypasses, the Ronda Litoral and the Ronda de Dalt were opened before the Olympic Games. The former crosses the city along the coast and the latter skirts around the foot of the Serra de Collserola mountain range.

Also completed were the Vallvidrera tunnels, which link Barcelona to the Vallès Occidental region, to the north-west of the second metropolitan ring. An additional stretch of the second Barcelona bypass was built, which links the Vallès Oriental region to Barcelona via the city of Badalona, around which the side roads of the A-19 motorway were widened.

Within the highway improvements, works were also carried out in areas that are quite a long way from Barcelona, but which helped to connect the Olympic sub-host cities. Examples of such works are El Garraf motorway and the Rubí-Terrassa motorway. Lanes were also added to the N-152 highway to Vic, and to the C-150 highway between Girona and Banyoles.

Cultural olympiad

As required by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the cultural programme for the XXVth Olympiad was specifically planned. In this respect, the four years between the Seoul’’88 Olympic Games and the Barcelona’’92 Olympic Games were culturally themed.

The Cultural Olympiad formally began in 1988 with the “Portico” of the Olympiad, which included the famous performance by Montserrat Caballé and Freddy Mercury, among other acts.

The year 1989 was designated the Year of Sport, with the opening of a permanent exhibition on sport and the first Autumn Festival, which was repeated in 1990 and 1991. These festivals thematically united a whole series of theatre, music and dance performances that increased the city’’s usual offerings.

The year 1990 was designated the Year of the Arts, and the city’’s modernist cultural heritage was highlighted. Among other events, the city’s most unique modernist buildings were signposted by paving stones identifying them. Together they formed a route. As a result, these buildings were thematically linked in a graphic manner for the very first time.

The year 1991 was the Year of the Future, in which the city’’s new design trends were emphasised by the “Casa Barcelona” project, as well as a new Autumn Festival.

As a major cultural event, the Olympic Festival of the Arts was held in 1992. It combined exhibitions and performing arts shows, and was the culmination of the Cultural Olympiad.

Educational programme

The Barcelona’’92 educational programme called A l’escola, més esport que mai (In school, more sport than ever) was launched in 1985 —before Barcelona was nominated the Olympic host city— to disseminate the values of sport and Olympism in schools. A further aim was to increase the amount of sport done by children while incorporating Olympic- and sport-related content into teaching.

Promoted by Barcelona City Council and supported by the public and private sectors, the programme led to the improvement of several school sports facilities, provided specific training for physical education teachers, organised guided tours around Olympic facilities (a total of 1,211) and published various educational materials.

Also promoted was the “Els Dimecres Olímpics” (Olympic Wednesdays) initiative. Involving both pupils and teachers, these were sports days organised by schools themselves. Approximately 109,000 pupils took part in a total of 195 events.

In the summer of 1992, the Organising Committee for the Barcelona’92 Olympic Games (COOB’92) organised an International Youth Camp for young adults aged between 18 and 22 from 67 National Olympic Committees.

In the academic field, worthy of note is the creation of the Olympic and Sport Studies Centre at the Autonomous University of Barcelona (CEO-UAB) in 1989. CEO-UAB promotes research and dissemination activities in the field of Olympic studies, collaborates on bachelor’s degree, master’s degree and doctoral courses, and manages one of Europe’’s most important centres of documentation on Olympism.

Corporate Identity and look

The corporate identity of the Barcelona’92 Olympic Games was expressed by the logos, mascot, various pictograms, posters, specific signage and medals.

Regarding the logos and mascot, they were reproduced in a whole series of catalogues of promotional products with their own licences, such as T-shirts, pens, stickers, badges, ties, handkerchiefs, balls, items of jewellery, etc. In this respect, worthy of note is the corporate identity on supports such as pins, which were novel accessories in the complements market. At that time they were fashionable, and at the Barcelona’92 Olympic Games they became collectors’ items.

The dissemination of the corporate identity was specifically organised at all events both before and during the Olympic Games, and every member of the Olympic Family, of Team’92 and of the security forces present at every event received a promotional pack containing XXVth Olympiad items, a medal and a diploma.

The corporate identity has been retained as a symbol and souvenir of the Olympic Games, and a very wide range of items can be found at the Olympic and Sports Museum Joan Antoni Samaranch located right next to the Anella Olímpica (Olympic Ring).

Games’ music

Barcelona wanted music to be the hallmark of the Olympic Games, and the organizers gave it a leading role in the opening and closing ceremonies. In contrast to Los Angeles in 1984 and Seoul in 1988, the ceremonies in Barcelona gave greater emphasis to music and musical performers than to choreography or high-tech special effects.

The music of the games was to be different, out of the ordinary, and had to provide a modern image of Barcelona, taking advantage of the traditions and strengths of the country, one of which was the wealth in opera singers of international renown it had.

These were the performances related to the Games:

Promotional Song

  • The song that accompanied the promotion of Barcelona ’92 Games was Barcelona performed by Catalan opera singer Montserrat Caballé and Freddy Mercury, singer of the British band Queen, and composed by him and Mike Moran. Although the song was featured in the opening ceremony, could not be interpreted by the singers since, unfortunately, Freddy Mercury had died seven months before the Games. Due to difficulties in the agendas, the singers recorded their parts at different times and locations and the video was recorded in the Ku nightclub in Ibiza

Opening Ceremony

  • The Olympic fanfare composed by Carles Santos started the party. The band was formed by 74 musicians playing drums and trumpets, and  highlighting were the tenores, a popular musical instrument in Catalonia.
  • Then came the welcoming Olympic Sardana composed by Josep Lluís Moraleda and Lluís Serrahima and performed by 12 musicians from the Cobla Principal de la Bisbal and opera singers Montserrat Caballé and José Carreras.
  • Then the same cobla played the Cant de la Senyera, a Catalan popular anthem, composed by Lluís Maria Millet, founder of the Orfeó Català, with lyrics by poet Josep Carner
  • The show Tierra de pasión started with 360 drums from the lands of Aragon who gathered in the center of the stadium with 300 musicians of Levantine and Catalan bands, they were relieved first by a love song sung by Placido Domingo and then the song The finer hair sung by Alfredo Kraus.
  • The show by La Fura dels Baus was accompanied by music from the Japanese Ryuichi Sakamoto, which also adapted for the act the folkloric Catalan song El Virolai.
  • The athletes parade followed the beat of a march composed by Carlos Miranda with universal evocations of Spanish music.
  • To accompany the entry of the Olympic flag into the stadium, greek musician Mikis Theodorakis recreated the song Hellenism, accompanied by 96 musicians and sung by Agnes Baltsa. At the moment the flag began to raise, Alfredo Kraus interpreted the Olympic anthem.
  • The song that accompanied the entrance of the Olympic torch was created by the American Angelo Badalamenti which brought emotion to the moment.
  • The display of the friendship flag was accompanied by the symphonic version of the official Games song , Friends for life, composed by Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber.
  • After the Castellsperformance, all six opera singers Jaume Aragall, Teresa Berganza, Montserrat Caballé, José Carreras, Placido Domingo and Joan Pons gave a 17 arias recital accompanied by the Orquestra Ciutat de Barcelona directed by Luis Antonio Garcia.
  • The show ended with the Ode to Joy from the Ninth Symphony by Ludwig van Beethoven, sung by 13-year-old Eleatzar Colomer and continued by the opera singers accompanied by the the three most important Catalan choirs, the Orfeó Català, the Coral Sant Jordi and the Coral Carmina.

Closing Ceremony

  • The closing ceremony began with the unusual race performed by El Tricicle accompanied by the Josep Maria Bardagí fanfare, then an equestrian display took place accompanied by the Spanish composer’s music Joaquin Rodrigo.
  • The Cristina Hoyos dance company danced to Manuel de Falla’s El fuego fatuo, accompanied by the voice of mezzo-soprano Teresa Berganza.
  • When it came time to do the flags relay, the Orchestra Ciutat de Barcelona played the anthem of Spain followed by the United States’, which would host the next Olympic Games
  • The presentation of the Atlanta’96 Games and their mascot was accompanied by jazz music created by Paul Schwartz.
  • The lowering of the Olympic flag came along the Olympic hymn sung by Placido Domingo and the ceremonies choir, formed by the three choirs that had already sung at the opening of the Games.
  • El Cant dels Ocells, a traditional catalan song, adapted by Xavier Montsalvatge and performed by cellist Lluís Claret and soprano Victòria dels Angels wrapped the last gasp of the Olympic fire in the cauldron.
  • The show organized by the theater group Els Comedians was accompanied by the music group Koniec with music by Joan lbert Amargós.
  • Once again, the official song of the games sounded, Friends for life, sung by Josep Carreras and Sarah Brightman.
  • Firstly the show of the luminous ship and then the fireworks were accompanied by 100 musicians, the Banda Sinfónica de Llíria from the Valencian community, interpreting the music of Carles Santos.
  • Nothing better to bid farewell to the great celebration of of the Olympic Games closing than the joy of the rumba, the most genuine popular music in Barcelona. The great singers of the rumba with Peret, the king of the rumba at the front accompanied by the groups Chipén, Los Amaya and Los Manolos, performed thirteen songs with the passionate rhythm of the rumba, ending with the song Gypsy sorceress while the public and the athletes danced together on the floor of the stadium.

Catalan identity

The XXVth Olympiad of Barcelona’’92 is considered to be a historic period for the global projection of Catalonia from its capital city, Barcelona. During the Olympic Games, Catalan identity was expressed in a variety of ways, starting with Catalan as the primary Olympic language alongside Spanish, French and English. The Catalan language was used on the signage of all venue entrances and services, as well as in the documents and public speeches of every official event of the XXVth Olympiad.

Catalan identity was projected both corporately through the use of elements such as Modernist mosaics in the graphic image of banners and murals, and spontaneously by citizens through the draping of huge Catalan flags (senyeres in Catalan) over the balconies of homes across the city, which was in keeping with what they usually do for national holidays in Catalonia.

The tourism potential of the Olympic Games also meant that the country’s gastronomy and heritage experienced a considerable degree of promotion. According to John Hargreaves (2000), the Barcelona’92 Olympic Games also served to arouse nationalist feelings, something that usually happens in every edition of the Olympic Games. However, the particular feature in the case of Barcelona’92 was that the people’’s national exaltation revolved around Catalan culture, whereas Spanish identity was promoted rather more institutionally in official ceremonies and events.

 

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