Will Olympics leave sporting legacy?

August 02, 2012, 2:49 PM GMT+0

53% think Olympics will ensure better sporting facilities; 47% say Games won’t encourage sport

Despite doubts associated with the legacy of the London Olympics as an inspiration for Britons to become more involved in sports, more than half of the British public believe that London 2012 will ensure better sporting facilities, and just over a third think it will encourage a healthier, more active Britain, our poll shows.

  • 53% agree that 'bringing the Olympic Games to London will ensure that the capital has much better sports facilities not just for the games themselves but for years afterwards'
  • 28% disagree that the Olympics will ensure better sporting facilities in future
  • 34% think that 'bringing the Olympic Games to London will encourage more British people to take up sport and so improve the health of the nation'
  • 47% do not believe the Olympic Games will encourage a healthier, more sporty nation
  • Almost three fifths of the public say they are generally interested in sport and sporting events (57%), a quarter of which claim to be ‘very interested’ (24%) next to a third who are just ’fairly interested’ (33%)
  • Two fifths say they are not interested in sport or sport themed events at all (40%)

Failing to inspire

Following the conclusion of the Games, many of the Olympic venues are expected to be transformed into public sporting facilities in an effort to continue the legacy of the Games, however the BBC reports that the government cannot escape the reality that the promise to use the Games to inspire a new generation to take up sports has so far been unsuccessful.

Figures published by Sport England show only a modest rise in the number of adults partaking in sport compared to four years ago, while there was a noticeable drop in youth participation, particularly in sports like swimming, tennis and football.

Fears that the Olympics will have no influence or benefit on youths have also been fuelled by significant cuts to public funds. Alex Helling in his debate on ‘sport mega-events and the crisis of youth exclusion’, warns that “there is little point” in encouraging youth sport “if local sporting clubs are closing down due to a lack of funding.”

Same fate as Beijing?

Some have also cast their gaze back to the 2008 Beijing Olympics, when China’s sports minister Liu Peng said that the successful hosting of the Olympics was “not only splendid for Chinese sports” but also something that “excited the passion of one billion people about sport." Despite this, today past Olympic venues are better known for the steady stream of tourists they attract rather than as locations for sporting activity.

‘Radical change’

The Government have commenced a new five year strategy with the hopes of encouraging young people to play sport and live up to the promise made by the Olympic committee. Presented by Sport England, the plans will cost the Government billions of pounds and allow every secondary school in England to host a community sports club with links to national sports governing bodies. Funding will also be made available to open school sport facilities for wider public use.

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt admitted that participation by young people in sport has been falling and that Britain needs “a radical change in policy.” Sport England’s chief executive Jennie Price said “with a new focus on young people - and an even tougher, government-backed regime of payment by results - Sport England and its partners are determined to deliver.”

See the full results and details of our poll here (pg 1-2)