Chapter 1 takes stock of the current debate concerning the role of the Olympic Games in promoting sustainable legacies. It tracks the historical processes and critical events as well as key developmental, conceptual–methodological and structural reasons responsible for the transformation of the notion of legacy from a relatively negligible by-product of the world premier sporting event, to a normative concept promoting institutionalised forms of behaviour and capable of delivering benefits to a wide range of stakeholders. It shifts the focus from legacy, as a retrospective concept, concerned with what has been left after the Games, to a prospective one, interested in various actions and interactions stimulated by the Games. The chapter also poses the central question of ‘how do legacies come about?’, which is to be systematically interrogated throughout the book. It also develops an argument about the importance of revisiting the idea of Olympic legacy if we were to sustain its political credibility and practical appeal in the future. How Olympic legacy is defined and managed, as a political concept and practice, will, to a large extent, determine the future of Olympism and the Olympic Games.