The foot races came first. The course was set out for them from the starting post, and
they raised a dust upon the plain as they all flew forward at the same moment.
Clytoneus came in first by a long way; he left everyone else behind him by the length
of the furrow that a couple of mules can plough in a fallow field. They then turned to
the painful art of wrestling, and here Euryalus proved to be the best man. Amphialus
excelled all the others in jumping, while at throwing the disc there was no one who
could approach Elatreus. Alcinous's son Laodamas was the best boxer, and he it was
who presently said, when they had all been diverted with the games, 'Let us ask the
stranger whether he excels in any of these sports; he seems very powerfully built; his
thighs, calves, hands, and neck are of prodigious strength, nor is he at all old, but he
has suffered much lately, and there is nothing like the sea for making havoc with a man,
no matter how strong he is'. (Homer 800 BC, The odyssey, excerpt from Book VIII).
Coming together to compete in sporting events, or to sit on the sidelines admiring the achievements of others, hosting festivals to celebrate the beauty of the arts, or dining on the best food available and drinking the best wines in order to celebrate the turning of another year, historians and archaeologists have uncovered ample evidence of people coming together to mark special occasions. Homer kindly provides us with the opportunity to look back some 3000 years in order to make us realise that major events, and in particular sporting events, have been around for a long time. With the Athens Olympic Games of 2004 well and truly behind us now, and all the challenges that the local organising committee were confronted with in regard to the (on time!) construction of facilities that were purposely built to host the games, we are left to wonder what has changed in those 3000 years. Not much some will say, we still fight wars and the Olympic Games still strive to bring the youth of the world together in a truce. Others may want to argue that we have much advanced since the ancient times, and that 'civilisation' is now world-wide rather than limited to Greeks of Homer, Plato or Hercules' times. We do not attempt to answer this question in this book. What the authors do want to stress is that since the beginning of human history, the reasons for people coming together have not changed greatly. We argue that major (sporting) events, and the facilities that host them, are all about creating togetherness, enjoyment and a fantastic leisure experience; a good time away from the pressures and realities of everyday life.
The purpose of this book therefore is to overview and discuss the issues that underpin the success of, first of all, the construction and operation of the facilities that host major events, and second, the conception and operation of the event itself. Our logic to deal with the management of facilities and major events in one book is simple: one does not exist without the other; they are in a symbiotic relationship.
Bringing together two fields of study and application that have traditionally been dealt with separately was a stimulating challenge. Providing the reader with an overview of what . . .