Millersville University Professor Says Location of Olympics Matters

Aug 06, 2012, 05:00 ET from Millersville University

MILLERSVILLE, Pa., Aug. 6, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Location is not only important when buying a house or renting an apartment, but it is also the basis of research being conducted by Dr. Jeffrey W. Wimer, Department of Wellness and Sport Sciences at Millersville University of Pennsylvania.  He is examining how the location of Olympic stadiums and the large-scale infrastructures necessary to support the games influence wellness endeavors after the games have ended.

"Factors such as air pollution, access to medical services, even the natural environment all play a role in health," said Wimer. "What is less known is the public health legacy of hosting an Olympics - how is one's life altered, either positively or negatively, by living near an Olympic venue?  The promised benefits of new jobs and increased tourism all build enthusiasm leading up to an Olympiad, but research is sparse when it comes to knowing the public health residues after the flame has been extinguished."

In order to complete his research, Wimer has visited several Olympic cities including Moscow, the host city for the 1980 summer games and Barra da Tijuca, a neighborhood located near Rio de Janeiro, which will host most of the venues for the 2016 summer games.

The Olympics are now underway in London's East End, an area once known for landfills, overcrowding and high crime. Much of the location has been rehabilitated in ways similar to how a run-down area in Atlanta was transformed into Centennial Park for the 1996 games. Like Atlanta, London officials are planning sustainability projects for after the games.

Wimer explained, "Renewing urban areas in the name of Olympic prosperity is not seamless. It sometimes creates unintended effects such as gentrification, a term used to describe low-income residents being displaced by more affluent people who are able to pay higher rent and expensive mortgages necessary in renovated areas." In Rio for instance," Wimer said, "Brazilian slum areas known as favelas are located near the future site of the Olympic Village. Many favela residents already have been affected by the government's continuing effort to prepare the future Olympic city."

Wimer is using his international research to provide his students with a frame of reference for understanding the multiple complexities that comprise wellness and sport sciences. The focus of his current research is predicting ways in which post-Olympic environments both facilitate and create barriers to healthy lifestyles.

SOURCE Millersville University