London still reaping Games legacies
London is still reaping the benefits of hosting the 2012 Olympic Games, with Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park set to fully reopen to the public in April and recent figures revealing an increase in sports participation across England.
From 5 April, members of the public will be able to explore the newly landscaped southern section of the Olympic Park, as it reopens for the first time since the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
More than a million people have already visited the Park since it was partially reopened in July 2013, and from April they will be able to enjoy even more of the beautiful parklands, fountains and waterways, as well as world-class sporting venues, arts and events and children’s play areas.
“The opening of the south Park is a huge moment in our vision to create a new heart of east London,” said Dennis Hone, Chief Executive of the London Legacy Development Corporation. “With beautiful parklands and waterways, and world-class sporting facilities the Park will become a must-visit destination for everyone – local people and visitors alike. We would encourage everyone to come and explore more from 5 April.”
From 1 March, the iconic Aquatics Centre will also open its doors for the first time since the Games, hosting a series of events, galas and public swimming and diving sessions, as well as the 2014 FINA/NVC Diving World Series and the 2016 European Swimming Championships.
Work has also begun on transforming the Olympic Stadium for post-Games use, including constructing a warm-up track and spectator and hospitality facilities.
The work will deliver a multi-use sporting venue ready to host five matches during the Rugby World Cup in 2015, as well as being the permanent home of West Ham United Football Club from 2016, and the new national stadium for athletics in Great Britain, which will host regional and national age group championships, an annual IAAF Diamond League meeting, the 2017 IAAF World Championships and the 2017 IPC World Athletics Championships. The Stadium will also be used for other sporting, cultural and community events.
“We go into 2014 on track to deliver a world class venue that, when it fully opens in 2016, can be used year round to host a whole range of sporting, cultural and community events,” added Hone. “The Stadium will be a truly remarkable legacy here in east London.”
Figures published in December 2013, meanwhile, show that 15.5 million people in England are now playing sport once a week, every week, representing an increase of over 1.5m since London won the bid to host the Games. The figures also revealed a record 1.67 million disabled people now playing sport each week, up by 62,000 over the last year.
Jennie Price, Chief Executive of Sport England, said: “This shows that more people are continuing to play sport and the growth we saw in 2012 was not just a post-Olympic bounce.
"I am particularly pleased to see record numbers of disabled people playing sport, which is a real testament both to the impact of the Paralympics and our increased investment in the grassroots.”