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Rio 2016, incentivised urban development and exclusion: small business and Porto Maravilha’s spatial renewal

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posted on 2023-08-30, 19:45 authored by Seth I. Kirby
This thesis presents a case study focus of the Porto Maravilha and Rio 2016 Olympic Games-related urban development, and how this regeneration influenced the environment for micro and small businesses. Speculative and spatial urban planning in this context is inherently unevenly distributed and this flagship urban programme tactically distorted the promises for the local community. 24 exploratory and in-depth qualitative semi-structured interviews were conducted in January 2018 to empirically assess the impacts of these urban rejuvenation processes connected with the Games on small business communities in the port region. Analysis was supplemented by post-Games observational data taking the form of visual data through the collection of photos, a series of reflection vlogs, social media insights and mapped walking routes, in addition to reviewing official Olympic documents, urban planning policy and independent event reports. The theoretical position of the thesis is underscored through the works of Keller Easterling and how exceptional projects can act as levers for physical urban and zonal re-animations. Findings centre on the urban realities of the post-hosting micro and small businesses of Porto Maravilha and seeks to probe in detail the tangible impacts and legacies for those stakeholders. This thesis reveals the stark challenges and the inability of these urban plans to foster medium term micro and small business benefits, and the highly charged reality for these businesses in relation to being able to freely access and derive further business opportunities, driven by the processes of this key regeneration project. Observational analysis illustrates how the deployment of this urban development venture subjugated local communities to exclusionary urban space tactics. Practical contributions of the thesis advance a roadmap for host city organisers to realign and reconceptualise marginalised stakeholder interests to better incorporate small businesses. These processes are enlisted through the development of Mega Event Business Inclusion (MEBI) model and a manifesto proposition to leverage micro and small business mega sporting event outputs, in an attempt to stimulate more inclusive and integrative micro and small business outcomes. As well as indicating a series of guidance points to harness the value of upgrading urban spaces driven by Games-related regeneration programmes. This examination shows how dilapidated industrial areas and buildings are fashioned into very mundane, stale and unusable urban places which therefore spark wider investment concerns for culturally significant sites and fail to generate additional tourism to a sporting host city or region.



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