Britain enjoying sporting and social legacies of London 2012
Following the successful staging of last year’s London 2012 Olympic Games, Great Britain has experienced a number of significant sporting and social legacies, which look set to provide long-term benefits for the host country.
At the heart of the 2012 Games vision was a commitment to help people connect to sport by focusing the world’s attention on sports’ greatest athletes and giving today’s young people better access to sports facilities, competition, coaching and sporting events.
Increase in sports participation
Recent figures published by Sport England revealed that 15.3 million people in England are now playing sport once a week, every week, which is 1.4 million more than in 2005 when London won the bid to host the Games.
The number of young people aged between 16 and 25 playing sport regularly, meanwhile, has reached 3.86 million – an increase of nearly 63,000 on the previous 12 months. There are also more women playing sport, with a year-on-year increase of 89,900 helping to further narrow the gender gap in sport.
The boost to sports participation has been achieved through a number of initiatives that were launched thanks to London 2012, including a new youth sport strategy for the UK that will see GBP 1 billion invested in youth sport over the next five years, as well as creating 6,000 new community sports clubs.
Upgrades for sports venues
Another initiative, entitled Places People Play, will fund upgrades for sports venues and support a regional network of sport and leisure facilities, as well as investing in grassroots sports clubs to benefit 377 community sports projects across England.
Sport England’s nationwide Sportivate scheme, meanwhile, is encouraging young people to try new sports by offering six-week coaching sessions. So far, the initiative has seen more than 250,000 teenagers and young adults benefit from free or discounted courses in 70 different sports.
“Sport has an incredible power to bring young people together"
“Sportivate is encouraging hundreds of thousands of young people who were inspired by the London 2012 Games, to take up sport, enjoy it and keep playing it,” says British Sports Minister Hugh Robertson. “Sport has an incredible power to bring young people together and improve their lives and I hope Sportivate continues to go from strength to strength.”
In total, London 2012 inspired over 35 new government policies, strategies or legislative changes that will make sport more accessible to young people, but the benefits of the Games are not simply limited to sport.
Following in the footsteps of the 70,000 Games Maker volunteers
Since the Games, many UK citizens have also been inspired to make a commitment to community involvement and volunteerism, following in the footsteps of the 70,000 people who served as Games Maker volunteers during the Games – 40 per cent of whom were volunteering for the first time ever.
More than 50,000 people have already signed up as sports volunteers through the Sport Makers initiative - Sport England’s Olympic volunteering legacy programme.
“It’s wonderful to see how these Sport Makers are fuelling the legacy of the Games by getting out there and helping others in their communities to play sport,” says London 2012 Chairman Seb Coe. “The Games Makers really opened our eyes to the contribution volunteers make to sport and it’s inspiring to hear how Sport Makers are making a difference in the local communities week in week out.”
The Games have also seen several health-related legacies, including a new National Sports and Exercise Medicine Centre of Excellence, which will provide a national and international hub for clinical and academic work in sport, exercise medicine and sports injury rehabilitation with the objective of becoming a world leader in its field. Its aim is to increase exercise in the community, develop strategies to prevent diseases related to inactivity and deal with sports injuries.
“This institute is a great example of the kind of thing we had in mind when we spoke about creating a lasting legacy from the London 2012 Games,” says Coe. “Not only will it deliver excellence in injury prevention and management for elite athletes, it will offer the same level of care to amateur sportsmen and women who were inspired by what they saw last summer.”
"A legacy that will benefit London and the UK for decades to come"
With so many legacies already coming to fruition, London Mayor Boris Johnson is confident that the Games will continue to provide lasting benefits for the city and the UK as a whole.
“We are surging ahead with a dynamic, strong world-class Olympic legacy of which we can all be proud,” he says. “This…is a legacy that will benefit London and the UK for decades to come.”