Olympic atmosphere at Montjuïc. Archive of Fira de Barcelona. Author: Pilar Aymerich
For those of us lucky enough to experience it, it only seems like yesterday. But, no. It has been a quarter of a century. 2017 marks the 25th anniversary of the Barcelona Olympics of 1992, which were coincidentally, the XXV Olympiad. After many attempts, the ambition of most cosmopolitan, daring and modern city of the Iberian Peninsula was realised in that distant summer of 92. It was chosen as the Olympic host city on 17th October 1986, a date that is now enshrined in popular memory, when the then President of the International Olympic Committee, Juan Antonio Samaranch, announced the choice of Barcelona in Catalan.
The announcement of Joan Antoni
Samaranch, proclaiming the city of
Barcelona as the venue for the
1992 Olympic Games
The selection of Barcelona as the host city for the Olympic Games of 1992 was as great a stimulus for the city as the exhibitions of 1888 and 1929, but especially the latter, which structured the Montjuic site, where Fira de Barcelona has been based since its official founding in 1932. This was also the best card that Barcelona 92 had to play, because the Olympic candidature was reliant on the mountain of Montjuic and its installations, such as the Stadium built in 1929 or Fira itself as the centre of operations of a landmark event for the city.
The legacy of 1929
The Venetian towers that were raised as access to the 1929 exhibition, and which have since marked the access to the Montjuïc site, welcomed the thousands of spectators heading to the Olympic Ring from the Avenue of Reina Maria Cristina.
Fira de Barcelona also played a key role by offering three of its Fair Halls located on both sides of the Avenue to operate as the Media Centre, including the main Press Room and the International Radio and Television Centre, the Central Accreditation Centre, the Barcelona 92 Olympic Organizing Committee Representation Centre (COOB’92), the IT and Technology Operations Centre , the Canteen for organization staff and the Meeting Point for Sponsors.
It was also one of the Olympic venues, hosting the fencing events in the Palace of Metallurgy, today known as Palace 8. With an area of 19,000 square metres, the building, which was built in 1927 to the plans drawn up by the architects Alexandre Soler and Amadeu Llopart, is notable for its enormous dome composed of triangles which covered the piste where the final bouts of the competition were held.
The human factor
Besides the use of its facilities, Fira de Barcelona also contributed to the success of Barcelona’92 with its employees. Many of the workers of the institution held positions of responsibility in the organization of the Games, and many more were Olympic volunteers.
However, the most outstanding name among them was that of Josep Miquel Abad, appointed Managing Director of Fira de Barcelona in 1983. His leadership of Fira led the then mayor of Barcelona, Pasqual Maragall, to appoint him in 1987 as Head of COOB’92, the organizing committee of “the best Games in the history of the Olympics”, as Juan Antonio Samaranch proclaimed on 9th August 1992 at the closing ceremony of the Barcelona Olympics… 25 years ago… Yes, yes… It feels like yesterday.