Transforming Lives: Barcelona 1992 transforms a city

Paralympics create new vision of a modern inclusive city 02 Jan 2020 By IPC

The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and United Nations (UN) Human Rights Office have published the third and final short film that showcases how the Barcelona 1992 Paralympic Games changed the way accessibility is viewed. 

The film, part of the “Transforming Lives Makes Sense for Everyone” campaign, focuses on the huge urban renewal that people living in the Catalan city enjoy to this day.

Barcelona 1992 transformed the industrial historic Catalan city into a modern, vibrant metropolis that is now one of the Europe’s most popular city tourism destinations.

Spanish Paralympic Committee President Miguel Carballeda Piñeiro said: “Barcelona offered the world a new vision of sport and a new vision of a modern inclusive city.”

Barcelona City Hall Sports Councillor Enric Truñó added: “We needed a new airport terminal because the Games put us on the map.”

According to the Post-Games report, El Prat Airport handled 9 million passengers a year in 1992. In 2018, the airport handled 50.1 million passengers.

Miguel Sagarra, former IPC Governing Board Member and Spanish Paralympic Committee Secretary General, said: “Sometimes in sport the word ‘legacy’ is a cliché. But in Barcelona’s case, the legacy of the city’s transformation created powerful, ineffable legacies.”

Barcelona 1992 Games Director Joan Coll added: “The Games are like a massive advertising billboard. People pass on the message. They come once and make return visits and it is a fantastic way of generating business. 

In 1990, just over two million tourists stayed in hotels for a total of 4 million overnight stays. In 2017, this number was 8.9 million tourists spending around 18.8 million nights in the city.

Merche Barreneche, Director of Barcelona’s Municipal Institute of People with Disability in 1992, said: “It costs the same to build something new that is accessible as something that is not. We must debunk the myth that it is more expensive.” 

Barcelona is now Europe’s sixth leading city for tourism in terms of bed nights.

Truñó said: “Turning the United Nations’ discourse on Sustainable Development Goals into reality requires action, not words.”

Carballeda Piñeiro added: “The Paralympics must continue to set a positive example to the world.” 

The first short film in the series about Barcelona 1992 was published to coincide with the UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities on 3 December.


The “Transforming Lives Makes Sense for Everyone” campaign was launched in 2018, showcasing the positive impact the London 2012 Paralympic Games had on employment opportunities for persons with disabilities in Great Britain. In May 2019 the campaign won a UN SDG Action Campaign award.

The campaign highlights how the IPC's activities and the Paralympic Games advance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In October 2019 the IPC committed to increase the visibility of the SDGs throughout the Paralympic Movement and at upcoming Paralympic Games, while helping to change the narrative of disability.