Keeping the flame alive: the Olympic and Paralympic Legacy - Select Committee on Olympic and Paralympic Legacy Contents


The hosting of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games was an outstanding success. The Games exceeded expectations and confounded sceptics by giving the world a spectacular example of what the United Kingdom is capable of doing, delivering a major event to time and to budget.

The success of the Games is a credit to the organisations involved, particularly LOCOG, the ODA and the BOA. As well as showcasing the UK's professionalism and expertise to the world, the experience of the Games should convince the UK of the value of holding such events in future.

The Committee's task was not to examine the Games themselves, but whether they will have an enduring sporting and regeneration legacy. The evidence we took suggested that legacy played a bigger part in the planning of the 2012 Games than in previous Games, and this in itself deserves credit.

The London 2012 legacy promised nothing less than a healthier and more successful sporting nation, open for business, with more active, sustainable, fair and inclusive communities. These laudable aims, supported across the political spectrum, attracted significant public and private investment. This report considers whether the promised legacy will be delivered.

Governance of the legacy

In the run up to 2012, and during the course of the Games, a combination of tight deadlines and political impetus ensured that a complex web of organisations pulled together in the same direction to deliver outcomes to an obvious timeframe.

We are unconvinced that the Government's current oversight arrangements represent a robust way to deliver the legacy. There is confusion on the timeframes and targets involved in its delivery and a lack of clear ownership.

We recommend that one minister be given overall responsibility for the many strands of the legacy, working with the devolved administrations to ensure UK-wide coordination. In the same vein, we call for the Mayor to be given lead responsibility and the necessary powers to take forward the vision for the future development of East London and create a lasting Olympic legacy in the capital.

Participation in sport

The UK faces an epidemic of obesity and the promise of inspiring a new sporting generation was a crucial and tantalising part of the legacy aspiration. A post-Games step change in participation across the UK and across different sports did not materialise.

We suggest urgent action to put in place clearly defined plans, under the lead of the single Minister for the Games Legacy, to inject more coherence into current efforts. In the medium term we must ensure that similar opportunities to improve sporting participation are not lost at future events.

The Games were an impressive example of what could be done to inspire volunteers, but again more needs to be done, including in planning future events, to ensure this has a meaningful legacy for volunteering more widely.

The Paralympic Games provided genuine inspiration for people with and without disabilities to take up sport but there are barriers in the quality of the facilities available in clubs, which affect disabled people looking to participate in sport.

A hoped-for legacy of the Paralympics was the transformation of general perceptions of disability. Extensive media coverage had a powerful effect on changing general public perceptions of disabled sport. There was less clear evidence that there was a similar impact on the broader perception of people with disabilities.

Physical Education and school age children

The interaction between sports clubs and schools, as well as wider social infrastructure, is key to establishing life-long patterns of physical activity. We support the findings of a recent study by Baroness Grey-Thompson on sport in schools in Wales and believe the principles underlying her findings should be applied throughout the United Kingdom.

In particular, PE needs a greater emphasis in the school day and that teachers, particularly in primary schools, need the training and skills to teach PE if we are to achieve meaningful progress. Improving PE is fundamental—where it starts and ends—and we call on the DfE and Ofsted to take more active roles in making this change happen.

High Performance Sport

We examined UK Sport's "no compromise" approach to sports funding which has clearly improved the top-end of Team GB's performances in the recent past. The no compromise approach is principally retrospective; it does not sufficiently help emerging sports some of which, such as handball or volleyball, generated real enthusiasm at London 2012.

The heavy focus on volume of medals also has an inherent bias against team sports. We call for UK Sport to adopt a more flexible approach, which reflects this problem and also enables sports to nurture a broader base and a wider pool from which future world class talent may emerge.

The legacy of the facilities

Looking at the future of the Games' facilities, we were disappointed by the disputes over the future use of the Olympic Stadium and ask those involved to work together to ensure that it is used for maximum community benefit. The other permanent facilities have been fitted out to combine accessibility for the whole community and to provide sustainable world class facilities for hosting future sports events. We hunted for, but did not find, white elephants.


It is the local people who should stand to gain most from the Games' legacy, and it is for this reason that the regeneration of East London was a major plank in the promised legacy. Previous Games and other major sporting events around the world have failed to leave meaningful transformative legacies for local people.

The regeneration of East London was at the centre of the London bid internationally and, more importantly, domestically. This is a big task with a potentially big reward. Whilst the sporting legacy can be measured in the short to medium term, we were repeatedly told that the regeneration legacy is a longer-term project.

The redevelopment of the Olympic Park itself is led by the Mayor's London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC). The Park will offer a mix of good quality new housing within the former athletes' village and five new neighbourhoods will be developed across the Park. It is important that a fair proportion, at least LLDC's target of 35%, of this housing is affordable for, and accessible to, local residents; we recommend that the LLDC should take steps to manage and monitor this.

Outside the Park, there is massive potential and need for further housing development in the surrounding boroughs. We believe it is essential that the Mayor, the GLA and local authorities work together to accelerate development on these sites and to ensure that the high standards so far achieved are sustained in subsequent development.

The development of the Park and surrounding area will generate new employment opportunities. The perception of the local people we met during this inquiry was that so far they have not felt the benefits of these opportunities.

We call on the responsible bodies to develop a coordinated programme through which new opportunities can be targeted at local communities. These jobs will only be taken by locals if the skills base of people in the area improves. This requires action and investment in the short term to secure the long-term dividend.

The transport infrastructure left in the wake of the Games is critical. We recommend that the Department for Transport take proper ownership of the unsolved problem of providing Stratford International station with international services. Transport for London made great strides in improving the accessibility of the London transport network, including for travellers with disabilities.

The momentum of these changes must not be lost, and the successful joint working by transport operators must be maintained. A number of initiatives piloted during the Games allowed businesses, particularly SMEs, a platform to compete to provide services in support of the Games. These initiatives were successful and need to be maintained to maximise the benefits to businesses.

More needs to be done to ensure that the longer-term economic benefits of the Games, particularly in tourism, are felt in the country outside southern England and more focussed ownership at Ministerial level should help to achieve this.

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