Olympic Games and Paralympic Games 2012: Legacy - Culture, Media and Sport Committee Contents

Examination of Witnesses (Question Numbers 1-19)


3 MARCH 2010

  Q1 Chairman: Good morning. This is a further session of the Committee's inquiry into preparations for the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games in 2012 in which we are focusing specifically on the legacy. I would like to welcome Mark Dolley, Managing Director of Taking Part, and Tessa Sanderson, board member of the Olympic Park Legacy Company, founder of Newham Sports Academy, and also a very successful Olympian. Would either of you like to make a short statement?

Ms Sanderson: Thank you. Good morning, and thank you for inviting me here this morning. The physical legacy of the Games will be important to east London, but the most crucial Games legacy is about people. The London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games represents a fantastic opportunity for Newham and the entire East End of London. Never again will there be such a chance to deliver lasting improvements in the lives of local people. The five host boroughs represent the most concentrated area of deprivation in the country. Despite our proximity to the wealthy financial heart of London we lag behind the rest of the capital in terms of employment, poverty, health and education. The promise of addressing this imbalance and regenerating the area, what has come to be known as convergence between the East End and the rest of London, was a central part of our bid and one of the decisive factors in securing the Games. In order to deliver this promise we need to learn the lessons of previous Games. The physical regeneration of the borough and the new infrastructure will not necessarily deliver social regeneration and conversion. Far from being an afterthought, social legacy needs to be put right at the heart of planning for the Games. The key is about joining local people with investment so they may benefit. There have been numerous examples of large scale regeneration projects which have failed to achieve outcomes for existing residents, and Newham's Employment Workplace have helped over 3,600 people into work since it was set up in 2007. It is also needed to create aspirations in our communities which is why I created the Newham Sports Academy with Tessa Sanderson. I competed in six consecutive Olympic Games from 1976 to 1996. I now sit on the Olympic Park Legacy Company, and I know some of my colleagues will be in later on to answer all the technical questions that need to be answered on that. I won the Olympic Games Gold medal in 1984 for my country, which I was very proud of. I now run the Newham Sports Academy, and it is a project that was set up just after the Olympic bid was won. As an East End of London resident who passionately feels a lot about sport and the community and has involvement in many local community sport and volunteer initiatives in east London, I am greatly enthused by the 2012 Games, and it is great to see the physical changes happening in east London. However, the majority of my work is not about physical buildings but inspiring people to make the most of themselves and use the Games as a catalyst to improve. There were a lot of promises made by the DCMS and some of those are being fulfilled. The Newham Sports Academy is a sports academy I created for the London Borough of Newham which helps to take the most promising athletes on to the next level for disabled and non disabled people and to prepare them for the elite sports programme. We have over 60 very talented youngsters on our books, of whom some will compete on home territory in 2012. The programme is based on total talent identification and working with several experienced coaches, both from disabled and non disabled sports, and this has also led to some of them going to universities and colleges and helped to create a great pathway for jobs for them. Many of them have also taken part in several high profile international and national competitions and the latest, whom you may or not know, is Vicky Ohuruogu, a young 16-year old who competed last week in Birmingham and shed three seconds off her personal best from last year. Emmanuel Okpokiri is another youngster who runs the 110m hurdles coached by Tony Jarrett.

  Q2  Chairman: Tessa, I am sorry to interrupt you but we are going to be slightly pressed for time, we have a lot of questions, so perhaps I can draw this to a close and ask you to bring out some of your points during the questions?

  Ms Sanderson: Finally, then, I would just like to say that British sport is very fragmented and littered with competing and conflicting interests and complicated functions which lead us to continually hold the begging bowl, and that does not help us to unearth and nurture the talent we find, and we must address that.

  Mr Dolley: People like Tessa, Olympians, people who work in the Olympic movement, clearly ask themselves constantly what more they can do. It is worth quickly recognising that if there is an opportunity to do more on legacy it is only because things have gone really well so far at breathtaking speed with the build, and the organising committee has done a fantastic job with the development in the teeth of a recession, so I would like to give a quick nod to those immense achievements before going into questions.

  Q3  Philip Davies: One of the most important ambitions for the legacy from the Olympics is increased sporting participation. We would be interested in knowing whether you think the Government are doing enough and taking enough practical steps to guarantee that increased sporting participation really will be a legacy in these Olympic Games.

  Mr Dolley: We have all seen the numbers and seen that progress is clearly being made. There are 600,000 more people doing more sport since the bid was won, and a lot of practical steps, be they free swimming, the creation of a dance champions group, the creation of a physical activity alliance. If the question is can a little more be done, my sense is quite possibly so, yes.

  Q4  Philip Davies: But if you are linking, say, free swimming to increased sporting participation, which may well be the case, that is not really a legacy of the Olympics. You can introduce a free swimming initiative whether you are hosting the Olympic Games or not. What I am really trying to pin you down on is whether or not the Government is doing enough with regard to an Olympics legacy to introduce these participatory sports, rather than other measures which have nothing to do with the Olympics?

  Mr Dolley: I do not think they can really be completely separated. Would a lot of these programmes have happened were the Olympics not coming? Probably not. Would the Exchequer funding for sport be where it is were the Olympics not coming? Probably not. That said, could yet more be done? People in the Olympic movement, as I say, always think potentially more could be done.

  Q5  Philip Davies: What do you envisage being different this time? All the evidence we have taken shows that when a host city hosts the Olympics there is no real increase in sporting participation afterwards. We have found exactly the same with the Commonwealth Games in Manchester, which had no impact. In fact, sporting participation went down, if anything, afterwards. People equate it to Wimbledon, where the tennis courts are packed for two or three weeks while Wimbledon is on and a few weeks later nobody plays tennis again. What is going to be different about this Olympic Games where, unlike any other Olympic Games in the past, all of a sudden we are going to have more people participating in sport as a result?

  Mr Dolley: One thing that has been different is that from the very outset there has been an explicit ambition to link an increase in mass participation to the Olympic Games, and the evidence has shown that past Olympic hosts have not always been successful, rarely so, in using the Olympic Games to increase mass participation. They did not always try. The key difference here is an effort is being made and that is leading to a whole range of programmes. You mentioned the Wimbledon effect. The Olympic movement understands the demonstration effect, which is the ability of Olympic athletes to inspire. That said, there is also perhaps a need for a second effect which has been identified through some work done by the University of Canterbury for the NHS which is that we could possibly be creating a festival effect around London 2012, explicitly linked to it, in order to encourage people who have become disconnected from sport to reconnect. It is this notion that if you have become disconnected from sport you are probably not going to be that directly inspired just by the sight of Olympians and you probably need to be drawn back into sport by something that transcends sport. Is there the opportunity to do something in that particular field? Yes, I believe so.

  Q6  Philip Davies: Do you think the Government's target of increasing participation in sport by two million people is realistic and achievable or pie in the sky?

  Mr Dolley: It is achievable and not pie in the sky. However, clearly there is a lot more that needs to be done. Just taking that first year, where they need to hit 200,000 a year to make that target, they hit 115,000 on sport in that first year but a lot of the programmes had not really started to bite because sport has been pretty heavily restructured recently, so the programmes have not really had time. There will be a clearer picture in six months or so, but obviously the progress needs to pick up pace if that is to be achieved.

  Ms Sanderson: I think it is achievable as well. Since I have been working over in Newham I have never before seen so many young people and adults taking part in sport and doing different kinds of sport. We are linking very much with a lot of the schools and colleges, and people through word of mouth are linking in with the programmes that I am doing over in Newham, especially with the estates-based programmes that we have created and the talent identification that we are doing from the Academy. There is a lot more mass participation and we are trying to raise awareness.

  Q7  Philip Davies: With respect, it is not everywhere around the country that can call upon an Olympic gold medallist to run and promote a scheme, and to a certain extent what you are doing in Newham is not particularly typical of what can happen in every pocket of the country. You have a special status which other places might not be able to benefit from.

  Ms Sanderson: Thank you, but I do think other places would be able to benefit from what I am doing. This is a programme that can be rolled out nationally. We have a lot of ambassadors in and around the country like myself who have won medals in their disciplines, and this is where I think national governing bodies and partners can come together and work with programmes, like I do, in other boroughs, other parts of the country, and wider London, and roll it out. I do think it is a programme that can be rolled out nationally and work and be very successful.

  Q8  Mr Ainsworth: Tessa, can I just take you back to your opening remarks because you said something I thought was particularly interesting. It might just have been the way you said it, but what you said was there had been lots of promises from DCMS and some of them are being kept, and you emphasised the word "some". Could you touch on some of the areas where you are disappointed?

  Ms Sanderson: I have the promise here of what was asked of the DCMS, which was making the UK a world class sporting nation. We are fulfilling that because we are getting people and facilities and doing really well, transforming the heart of east London, but I think one of the aspects of that is when it comes to branding, which we are looking for from the financial side of it to make sure that what we have to help move the programme on for youngsters and programmes to come together with sponsorships and all these sort of things, we are not living up to that. There are ways we can try and turn that situation around so we can use the branding of LOCOG and the IOC to help create a little bit more finance, so smaller programmes can become effective and workable. We need to enhance that a little bit more because that has become more or less a blockage for a lot that needs to be done.

  Mr Dolley: The IOC and LOCOG have clearly gone further than any previous Olympic Games organising committee in rolling out the Inspire mark programme, and we have already seen a lot of programmes like National School Sport Week badged with the Inspire mark so the explicit link has been created between the programmes and the Olympic brand. That said, is there scope to get even more programmes badged with an Olympic brand that affect community sport? Almost certainly.

  Q9  Mr Sanders: Tessa, can I ask what you think are the greatest barriers to young people taking up and continuing to participate in sport?

  Ms Sanderson: What I found when I started the Newham Academy was that young people need to be given the opportunity to use facilities without having to go in and pay. I had some of the young kids come up to me and say they had to try and get as little as £5 from their parents to go to a club to find facilities to train that were accessible to them, get competition clothing, travel to and from competition—the whole package. We also need to find experienced coaches to go into the schools and colleges to encourage them to come out and take sport and show them that sport is a great pathway, and convince them to take up sport. That is where I, as an ambassador, came in and made it a little easier for them to understand and realise that we are trying to put them to a better platter. So, to answer your question, it was being able to access the facilities without it costing an awful lot of money, and also having the right coaches to coach them when they are there, and to sustain that programme for them.

  Q10  Mr Sanders: The Olympics is obviously going to be a showcase for elite athletes. Is there a danger that that can put people off, that the targets are too high, that it is seen as unobtainable to reach the peak that these elite athletes are able to reach? Is that ever a barrier? Or are there role models that encourage people to get involved?

  Ms Sanderson: Maybe it is wrong to say this but I find the elite athletes are being looked after very well, as such, it is just that at the grass roots the gap is so big. For the elite the funding has worked in full but at the grass roots you are seeing very little being trickled in, and we need to bridge that gap so we can get more or less on to a level platter. The problem is just bridging that gap in between, and encouraging them to feel that they are not at a loose end.

  Q11  Mr Sanders: It is going to take an enormous amount of resource to do that, is it not, if you are going to provide top notch facilities almost available free of charge at the grass roots in order to break down those barriers and give people the same degree of quality facility and coaching that is available to the elite athlete? That surely is unrealistic, is it not?

  Ms Sanderson: There are a lot of barriers in a sense, and you are right that not all facilities are accessible, but I think it is how hard one works at it. When I first went to Newham, of course, I had to go and talk to the people in and around and break the doors down for people like Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL) and the universities, so we could get the strengthening conditioners and biomechanicals and all the things that were necessary. That did create a barrier and I should not have to do that. One of the biggest things was the funding that enabled me to go out and engage the coaches that I wanted and find the people from the talent identification that I wanted, and had Newham not done that I would never have been able to do that, and that to me is not right. To me, that should be addressed by the governing bodies and by the Government to make sure that all those things are in place, so when our champions have moved on and done well the grass roots are taken care of and come up slowly behind to make sure we have champions ready for when our major championships come about. It is about accessing facilities, finding the funding, and making sure they are easily accessible for people and youngsters to get involved in.

  Q12  Mr Sanders: It is obvious there is a big physical presence in the Olympics in the East End of London and there is a lot riding on it being a success, but what about my constituents in South Devon, within an area of 250,000 population? We do not even have an all-weather running track. How are people in my area, 200 miles from London, going to feel part of this and want to engage in sports?

  Ms Sanderson: That is a very tough one but I can only go with what I am doing at the moment. I have been to Manchester, Bolton, and other areas where I have been working with this scheme but off my own bat, using my own coaches to bring them there, encouraging schools as much as I can to get involved, and trying to involve the rest of the country in the fact that the Olympic Games is coming. In a way the Games belong not just to London but the whole of the country. I have been to the Games and I see how it can regenerate and inspire others to take up sport, but what I have been doing, as I said, is working in Newham, taking it to various other parts and trying to roll out what I am doing, because I do think it is workable. Now it is up to people or the group I am with to be committed to go to these areas, or to be commissioned to go to these areas and work with the ambassadors in those areas and try and replicate the same thing. Then you will see further benefits in your area. It is the responsibility of the local boroughs and areas for them to say, "Listen, we would like to be a part of this, let's open our doors to these youngsters and try and help to do this".

  Mr Dolley: Similarly with regard to your constituency, even though a lack of facilities may have precluded the constituency signing up for a pre-Games training camp, it would not preclude, for example, a community sports festival taking place in the park with the presence of Olympians. So there will still be opportunities for engagement pieces.

  Ms Sanderson: Yes. There are sports development people working all over the country, and I know they are ready and open to engage in sports, engage in youngsters. I hasten to say a lot of this is about funding and making sure we have the right funding in place for people to be able to conduct these programmes and schemes, and for the right programmes to be put in place. That can be done.

  Q13  Janet Anderson: Mark, you mentioned community sports festivals and your brainchild, the Taking Part project, is a very ambitious project. Could you tell us where you are up to with it and how you intend to deliver it?

  Mr Dolley: Yes. The idea is broadly to deliver a series of community sports festivals, starting with a trial event this coming summer, and please do all come along, if I can mark your dance cards for 25 July, in Mile End Park. Why there? Because it allows for the testing of the co-location of a number of sports facilities. There is a good track, a good swimming pool and so forth, and it allows us to prepare for the ambition in 2011 which is to have a series of community sports festivals on 24 July, the Sunday of LOCOG's open weekend, which has been a very successful programme. The chain of festivals throughout the UK would be anchored by a major festival inside the Olympic Park itself, opening it up for the first time for community use and grass roots sports use.

  Q14  Janet Anderson: What happens at these festivals? What is a typical day?

  Mr Dolley: A typical day will start at a reasonable hour in the morning, it is not your standard 10k race where you are expected to be at an industrial park on the outskirts of town at 8am to go running. A typical day will involve 25,000 people, of which 15,000 would go for a walk before coming back to the festival. The whole of the 25,000 people would attend the festival. The festival would be something that transcends sport, goes beyond it and looks at physical activity, bringing in dance, for example, which is extremely popular with young people right now, and cultural elements. It is the notion that to reach the sedentary you create a series of festivals that are more than just about sport, because the people are not going to go down to the park for a sports day, so you have something that is more fun.

  Q15  Janet Anderson: Are these activities all free?

  Mr Dolley: Yes. There would be a ticketing issue only for the 15,000 people doing the walk. The festival element would then be free after the walk, and the further 10,000 people at each of these events would be able to go with no barriers to entry straight to the park, and take part in the festival on a free basis.

  Q16  Janet Anderson: How are you marketing this? How are you letting people know about it?

  Mr Dolley: The idea is to work with commercial partners. If you look at the reach of the commercial partners involved in the Olympics it is astonishing. For example, one funder of the Olympic Games, the National Lottery, which has done so much to fund British sport ever since it was created, reaches within two miles of 96% of the UK population through 28,000 of those screens. They have tremendous reach. If you look at the Olympic partners in the UK in general there are nearly a million employees, so you can reach those before you have even counted their families. Reach is not really an issue.

  Q17  Janet Anderson: Is it these same sponsors who are funding Taking Part?

  Mr Dolley: The idea is to work within the Olympic commercial framework. If you would like to do something with an explicit Olympic link then clearly you are constrained by that commercial framework. That said, there does seem to be a hearty appetite for these festivals.

  Q18  Janet Anderson: So there is sufficient funding available for this?

  Mr Dolley: I believe so, on an ongoing basis, although I am in discussions with DCMS and Department of Health with regard to some seed funding to get the first year's event up and running. Thereafter there is no central Government call on public funds.

  Q19  Janet Anderson: What evidence is there that these sort of one-off community events increase sporting participation?

  Mr Dolley: It is really about the way they are designed. People in sports development in the world have been doing Come and Try Days since time immemorial. In order to make them effective you have to make sure the local community clubs are engaged and are delivering so that people will then have a relationship with that club. For example, we have had discussions with regard to Mile End Park and the test event there, the idea being that even though Olympians may come from all across the UK to paddle on Regent's Canal, the community engagement piece would be run by the community sports club that is going to be the tenant of the new white-water course up in Broxbourne. You make sure local people are being connected with local providers, who they may even know already.

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