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


Olympic and Paralympic Games Legacy


92.  The staging of the Olympic and Paralympic Games ("the Games") in London during the summer months of 2012 is widely held to have been a huge success, exceeding prior expectations. Nothing we have received in evidence questions the unequivocal success of the Games, which relied on the effective coordination and drive of a large number of bodies.

93.  It was not the role of the Committee to re-examine the staging of the Games themselves, but to seek to measure the likely legacy which will be secured against what was promised and against what might have been achieved, focussing on the twin aspects of maximising sporting and regeneration legacy.

Why does legacy matter?

94.  The anticipated legacy of summer and winter Games has become an increasingly prominent part of the dossiers of the cities bidding to host them since the 1990s. In 2003, the IOC Charter was amended to include an aspiration "To promote a positive legacy from the Olympic Games to the host cities and host countries."

95.  The recent history of bids for Olympic Games was not a happy one prior to the success of the 2012 bid in 2005 and this history is set out in Box 1 below. The prominence and credibility of the legacy which was promised in 2005 was a significant factor in its success. Although it is an important factor for the IOC members, who decide on which city should host an Olympic Games, it is particularly relevant to the public in the host country.[1]

96.  The investment of public and private money in the hosting of Games is significant. There has sometimes been a perception of insufficient long-term benefits, or even adverse long-term consequences, for cities and countries having hosted the Games. There have been high profile public debates over the level of long-term debt incurred by the city of Montreal in 1976, concerns over the social impact of urban displacement caused by the Barcelona Games in 1992 and the Beijing Games in 2008, and criticism of environmental impacts, by amongst others the United Nations Environment Programme, which remains prominent in relation to the Sochi 2014 Games.[2] The challenge therefore in developing a meaningful regeneration legacy for the Park and the surrounding area, and where possible a meaningful economic legacy for the UK as a whole, was a steep one.

97.  It is important to try to make an objective assessment over the Games' Legacy. Legacy covers a wider range of issues than the physical infrastructure and facilities left behind, including a variety of "hard" and "soft" legacies. Apart from regeneration, the UK faces an epidemic of obesity. The promise of inspiring a new sporting generation and thereby making the nation healthier was a tantalising part of the legacy aspiration. Growing sporting participation would achieve many such social goods, in addition to the narrower but important aim of identifying and developing the most talented people from the widest pool.


The history of UK Olympic Games Bids
The United Kingdom has hosted three summer Olympic Games, in each case in London. In 1908, London was chosen to host the Games in order to replace Rome following a volcanic eruption. London bid successfully for the Games in 1944, but these Games were cancelled after the advent of the war. In 1948, London was selected at short notice to host the Games as one of four applicants, although no ballot was taken. On three further occasions, Birmingham for the 1992 Games and Manchester for the 1996 and 2000 Games, the BOA made unsuccessful bids. Only in 2005, bidding for the 2012 Games, has the UK successfully bid for and staged the Games. A key part of the successful bid was the strength and centrality of its concept of legacy; the IOC's bid evaluation report concluding that "the Olympic Park would undoubtedly leave a strong sporting and environmental legacy for London".

What was promised?

98.  The most straightforward way to seek to assess the legacy of the London 2012 Games is to look at what was promised. The 2005 bid promised four themes underlying its vision for the Games, two of which were the sporting and regeneration legacy:

·  Delivering the experience of a lifetime for athletes;

·  Leaving a legacy for sport in Britain;

·  Benefiting the community through regeneration; and

·  Supporting the IOC and the Olympic Movement.

99.  The Government's initial legacy aims were set out by DCMS in its 2008 document, Before, During and After: Making the Most of the 2012 Games, which set out five areas of ambition for a long-term legacy from the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games:

·  To make the UK a world-leading sporting nation;

·  To transform the heart of East London;

·  To inspire a generation of young people;

·  To make the Olympic Park a blueprint for sustainable living; and

·  To demonstrate that the UK is a creative, inclusive and welcoming place to live in, to visit and for business.

100.  In 2009 a sixth legacy aim was added, "to develop the opportunities and choices for disabled people".

101.  In December 2010 the current Government issued a further, four point legacy plan:

·  Harnessing the United Kingdom's passion for sport to increase grass roots participation, particularly by young people—and to encourage the whole population to be more physically active

·  Exploiting to the full the opportunities for economic growth offered by hosting the Games

·  Promoting community engagement and achieving participation across all groups in society through the Games; and

·  Ensuring that the Olympic Park can be developed after the Games as one of the principal drivers of regeneration in East London.

102.  Although the Government were responsible for producing the legacy plan, its development and delivery has involved a bewildering number of other bodies at different stages, including the London Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) and the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA); the British Olympic Association (BOA) and British Paralympic Association (BPA); Sport England and UK Sport; the Mayor of London, the Olympic Park Legacy Company and the host boroughs in East London: Barking and Dagenham, Greenwich, Hackney, Newham, Tower Hamlets, Waltham Forest. This multiplicity of bodies and acronyms has created a veritable Tower of Babel of potentially conflicting voices; the resulting cacophony conflicts with the need for clarity of voice and purpose.

103.  At the heart of the staging of the Games themselves was the Olympic Board, with the remit of hosting an inspirational, safe and inclusive Olympic and Paralympic Games and leaving a sustainable legacy for London. We felt the nature of the board could be well understood by analogy to the launching of a successful theatrical event from scratch. The Government, through the ODA, built the theatre, LOCOG was the impresario, the producer of the event, the BOA provided the actors and actresses in the form of athletes, and the Mayor of London took responsibility for the legacy when the curtain came down, although many of those listed in paragraph 102 continue to see themselves as playing a central role. With this sort of structure underpinned by a common goal, there was a natural tendency for each body to share ideas, take an interest in the others' responsibility and to build legacy into decisions on the design of the facilities.

The Committee's inquiry

104.  On 20 May 2013, the House appointed this Committee to "consider the strategic issues for regeneration and sporting legacy from the Olympic and Paralympic Games, and to make recommendations". The membership of the Committee is set out in the inset cover to this report.

105.  The Committee was set a tight timetable by the House, to complete its report by 15 November. Interest in the Games' legacy has been high and the twin aspects: sport and regeneration had a range of key stakeholders on different sides of the argument. For that reason, we endeavoured to take evidence from as many of the key stakeholders as possible. We held 33 oral evidence sessions, hearing from 53 witnesses, and received 67 responses to our call for written evidence, issued in June.

106.  Within our remit of the strategic issues for regeneration and sporting legacy, this report focuses on:

·  Sporting Participation (Chapter Two);

·  School Age Sport (Chapter Three);

·  High Performance Sport (Chapter Four);

·  The Legacy of Sports Facilities (Chapter Five);

·  The Legacy for Regeneration in East London (Chapter Six);

·  The Economic, Social and Cultural Legacy (Chapter Seven); and

·  The Delivery and Governance of the Overall Legacy (Chapter Eight).

107.  The Committee's inquiry began within a year of the Games themselves, which is a very early point at which to seek to review progress on what is hoped to be a sustainable legacy in the longer term. This Committee was an ad hoc appointment by the House and therefore ceased to exist on the production of this report. The Liaison Committee, which is responsible for reviewing the work of the House's select committees, has decided to follow up the recommendations of former ad hoc committees a year after their reports are published. Some of our recommendations (those starred in the summary which precedes this Chapter) are therefore identified as issues which should be subject to this process and on which others in the House will want to return over the coming years.

108.  We are grateful to the Committee's secretariat and our two specialist advisers, Professor Allan Brimicombe and Professor Ian Henry, for their assistance to the inquiry.

1   David Luckes was commissioned by the British Olympic Association to write the initial feasibility study for the 2012 Games bid. He told us that "Legacy itself does not necessarily convince people to vote for you internationally. It has a strong domestic sell and it was a strong, I suppose, pitch, for want of a better phrase, domestically, to say, "This is something that will have tangible benefits for people on the ground in East London". Sometimes that pitch is oversold internationally, because if you have people from Malaysia or Botswana, the legacy value of regenerating East London is probably less to them." (Q 121) This view was endorsed by John Coates, Vice-President of the IOC and President of the Australian Olympic Association. Back

2   United Nations Environment Programme. (2010). Sochi 2014 - UNEP Mission Report Nairobi: UNEP Back

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