The Olympic and Paralympic Games as the Catalyst for Accessibility in the Host City


This study explores how and to what extent the Sochi 2014 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (the Games) served as a catalyst for accessibility in the host city nine years after the event. The research objective was to critically analyse the Sochi 2014 Barrier-Free Environment (BFE) programme and its role in tangible and intangible transformations of Sochi into an accessible city with possible wider implications for the host country. The study adopted a case study approach and qualitative methods of data collection. The analysis of key documents (i.e., Sochi 2014 Official reports, United Nations reports, Human Rights Watch reports) was complemented with 12 semi-structured interviews with people involved in Sochi 2014 Paralympic Games managerial positions, the Sochi City Administration (SCA) employees, managers of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Park venues and Sochi residents with disabilities. The findings highlighted both benefits and shortcomings of the BFE programme. Research participants by consensus recognised the improvement of accessibility in different areas of Sochi such as transport, leisure, sport facilities, tourist attractions, and social infrastructure. Yet, major programme failures have been evidenced related to urban and transport infrastructure development funded by the SCA and the absence of a long-term strategy for the programme continued implementation. Future host cities could utilise the experience from Sochi to develop their own BFE programmes and plan a better long-term strategy that would enable and strengthen the legacy of the accessible environment for local communities to enhance their quality of life long-term.


Ana Lucia Picasso
Executive, Commercial Department, Mexico Open at Vidanta, Distrito Federal, Mexico


Presentation Type

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session


2023 Special Focus—The Impact of Professional Sport on Community


Accessibility, People with Disabilities, Barrier-Free Environment, Olympic and Paralympic Legacy

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