Barcelona Spain, 1992

Legacy of the Games

The 1992 Summer Olympic Games were the last to be held in the same year as the Winter Games. The International Olympic Committee had taken the decision in 1986 to separate the two seasonal Games and hold them in alternating even-numbered years, beginning in 1994.

The fluctuating international political situation during the late 1980s and early 1990s, especially the end of the Cold War, meant that the Barcelona Games saw many newly-created countries competing for the first time. The event was also without boycotts for the first time since 1972.

The main political changes included the inclusion of South Africa for the first time since it was banned from the games in 1960 on account of its aparthied policies. Following reunification in 1990, Germany competed as a unified Olympic team for the first time since 1964. The Soviet Union was dissolved in 1991, leaving the new Baltic nations of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania free to send their own national teams for the first time since 1936. The remaining Soviet republics competed together as a ‘Unified Team’. The break-up of Yogoslavia saw the Olympic debuts of Croatia, Slovenia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Athletes from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia were not allowed to participate on account of United Nations sanctions. However, individual athletes were able to take part as Independent Olympic Participants under the Olympic flag.

The decision to award the 1992 Games to Barcelona had a massive impact on the city’s urban development. Enormous infrastructure investments were put in place to prepare the city for the Games, the result of which was to make Barcelona one of the most visited cities in Europe.

Ambitious urban developments included the opening of the city to the sea with the construction of the Olympic Village and the Olympic Port in Poblenou, a previously neglected neighbourhood. New sports centres and facilities were built in Montjuïc, Diagonal and Vall d’Hebron. The construction of ring roads around the city improved traffic conditions and the airport was modernised and expanded with the addition of two extra terminals. Barcelona’s hotel provision was also improved with the building of many new hotels and refurbishment of existing ones.