Has London 2012 delivered on its legacy promises?
The London 2012 bid team’s five-point plan, put to the International Olympic Committee before it was awarded the games in Singapore seven years ago, has, more or less, been met, Sir Keith Mills, deputy chairman of the organising committee, told Jonathan Rest.
1. Make the UK a world-leading sporting nation
The London bid promised to get more people participating in sport and help at least 2 million more people in England be more active by 2012, although Mills claims the sporting legacy will only really be measured in three or four years’ time.
He said: “Historically it is very challenging to measure what sport participation actually means. The challenge is how you use the games to unlock that and get it moving in the right direction. A lot of it is about investing in facilities. It will be a while to see if it pays dividends.
“Certainly there is no direct correlation between hosting the Olympics and increased participation unless you do something about it. Big events do stimulate interest and demand, but the challenge is capturing it and turning it into a permanent way of life.”
2. Transform the heart of east London
“It was an obligation to the IOC to use the games to regenerate a run-down part of London that ranked second in the deprivation table in the UK at the time. What we have achieved there has been outstanding.
“This part of east London was not well-connected before, but now it has completely opened up. It will be the catalyst for large-scale change across the region and I have no doubts that over the next 10 years this will continue.”
3. Inspire a generation of young people
“We have made a big impact here. For the last four years we have been associated with Sported, a foundation set up to help around 10,000 clubs in the UK that use sport for social change.
“Historically these clubs have had to fend for themselves financially, so we’ve been working to provide them with money and assistance, and to date 1,200 clubs are getting support from Sported.
“Our International Inspiration programme has enriched the lives of more than 13 million children and young people in 20 countries, enabling them to participate in high-quality and inclusive physical education, sport and play. The programme is different in every country, addressing specific needs.”
4. Make the Olympic Park a blueprint for sustainable living
“The Olympic Park itself will be very successful: the futures of eight of the 10 venues are sorted before the games start, and after the games it will have a real thriving community feel, with a school, a medical centre and of course Westfield [shopping centre] on the doorstep.
“The park will transform one of the poorest areas in the UK into an urban and environmental showpiece, creating one of the biggest community parklands in Europe along with thousands of new jobs and affordable housing as a model for sustainable inner city renewal.”
5. Demonstrate that the country is a welcoming place to live, visit and conduct business
“Like participation levels, the economic impact and legacy from the games is so difficult to measure. But from the conversations I’ve had with UK Trade & Investment [the government body promoting UK business abroad and encouraging inward investment], they are very optimistic that there will be a real economic benefit for British export companies and for encouraging international firms to come and set up here.”