Insight Olympic legacy In the second part of a series, Ray Algar looks at the ambitious plans for an Olympic ‘legacy’ and asks how far along we are on the road to success
2012 – Marathon or sprint? In the first article in this two-part series (2012 – After the golden show, Leisure Report, October 2008), I discussed the size of the ambition that organisers and stakeholders have set for London 2012. London aspires to go far beyond any previous host city to leave a tangible and enduring participation legacy that enriches the lives of those not just in the UK, but globally. The economic and ‘hard’ legacy that flows from hosting the world’s largest sports event is now a given and London is looking way beyond physical regeneration. This is a games designed to move people; to ignite dreams and inspire individuals to leave the comfort of the sofa and experience the joy of human movement. The ambition is to enthuse more people to be more active, more often across both structured sport and in their everyday lives. This article explores the participatory aspects of London’s legacy and its ambition to get the nation moving.
inspired by the Olympics, but not Olympic sports. Sydney’s commitment to measuring the national participation legacy was weak with some Australian academics describing it as “incompetent”. London will not make the same error because there is a real sense that London 2012 can deliver so much more than a 17-day sports festival. Accurate measurement of the Olympic effect is now expected.
The widening reach of the Games One indisputable fact is that the core Olympic and Paralympic event is getting larger (see illustration below). Athlete numbers have grown 90% since the Mexico Games forty years ago. This suggests a broader global base of grass-roots participants with more young people believing they possess the potential to one day compete on a global stage. For example, the GB team is actively recruiting for new handball players. New pathways to the Olympics now exist that were not there a few years ago.
Can the Olympics inspire people? With a previous focus on social and economic regeneration, the Olympics have not previously been harnessed to catalyse a nation into physical activity. This means that evidence from past Games tends to be more anecdotal than empirical simply because insufficient emphasis was placed on measuring the ‘Olympic effect’. As Cathy Livock, director of consulting at pmpLEGACY comments: “Sports participation has not traditionally been a priority for Games legacy so the impact of hosting the Games on sports participation is unclear.” After Sydney hosted the 2000 games, participation in key Olympic sports such as cycling, running, tennis and football all rose. However, some sports later experienced a fleeting ‘Wimbledon effect’ with a decline the following year. In addition, Sydney did not see participation rises across all Olympic sports, especially those that inevitably received less television exposure such as table tennis, horse riding and martial arts. There was also a spike in non-Olympic activities such as walking and climbing which may suggest that Australians were
London promises The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) published Before, during and after: making the most of the London 2012 Games in June this year. It is the first part of a legacy action plan that fleshes out how the five key promises that underpin the 2012 legacy will be delivered. The underpinning promises are: ● Making the UK a world-leading sporting nation; ● Transforming the heart of East London; ● Inspiring a new generation of young people; ● Making the Olympic Park a blueprint for sustainable living; ● Demonstrating the UK is a creative, inclusive and welcoming place to live, visit and for business.
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The Nations and Regions Group (NRG) has been formed to ensure that the benefits that flow from £9.3bn invested in London 2012 ripple nationwide. NRG comprise 12 senior regional representatives from UK business and sport. Charles Allen, a London 2012 Organising Committee Board member is the chair. Each NRG member leads a taskforce of regional stakeholders to ensure that London delivers on its legacy promises. Legacy Trust UK was launched in November 2007. Its mission is to support an array of innovative cultural and sporting activities, which celebrate the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and which leave a lasting legacy in communities throughout the UK. It has been endowed with £40m from The Big Lottery Fund, the Arts Council and the DCMS. Its aspiration is to double this figure from other public sources. Its core funding themes are: Sport and well-being; Knowledge and learning; Arts and culture. Some £6m of its funding has been ring-fenced for the UK School Games. This Olympic-style event brings elite school-age athletes together in a multisport event. The event will operate annually up to 2011. In August 2008, the Trust awarded £13.4m to six of the NRG’s. For example, the South West was awarded £1.6m to operate an alternative sports festival featuring skateboarding, surfing, free running and mountain biking. The Trust will cease in December 2013 but until then Moira Swinbank OBE, its chief executive, is on a mission to “inspire the widest possible range of projects in which the maximum number of people across the UK can get involved”. So, get to know your NRG and start bidding.
Re-connecting young people This article focuses on the first and third promise. The figure overleaf illustrates participation aspects of the 2012 legacy. It shows how the core promise cascades to a series of UK-wide and overseas events that are already underway.
The widening reach of the Olympic Games
Taking London’s Games nationwide
159 Seoul 1988
205 Beijing 2008
In April 2009, the Department of Health (DoH) and the Fitness Industry Association (FIA) will pilot a collaborative project to re-engage 16-22 year olds across the UK in sport and physical activity. During the pilot, ‘Fit for the Future’ will offer heavily subsidised gym memberships for 5,000 inactive young people in five local authorities that suffer high levels of social and economic deprivation. The young participants will pay £5 per month facility (versus £42 national average) to access a ‘mid market’ facility, while centres will receive a DoH subsidy of £25 a month in London and £20 amonth outside the capital for each participant. The £5 tariff is linked to attendance, which must reach twelve visits per quarter, approximately once-weekly. There is a lot riding on this project for the FIA, which Andree Deane, chief executive recognises: “We are committed to making a cracking success of the money we have been given. This will demonstrate that we are credible at attracting, motivating and retaining young people. I want the FIA to become a key delivery vehicle for 2012 and after.” The aspiration is for
Insight a national roll-out in 2010. Summer 2009 will also see the FIA launch a major new national consumer campaign to encourage individuals to ‘sample’ a local health club.
London 2012 Participation Legacy
Welcome to ‘adiZone’ This September saw adidas, a tier-one London 2012 sponsor, launch an innovative range of outdoor gyms - ‘adiZones’ across the five London Olympic boroughs. The activity zones form part of adidas’s £100m investment in the Games. The adiZones are free to use and incorporate basketball, football and tennis areas, a climbing wall, an outdoor gym and an open area to encourage dance, aerobics and gymnastics. A team staff will be employed to engage with communities, schools and youth clubs. A school and college tour, press, radio and online platforms such as MySpace are driving awareness of the free-to-use zones. Google already references over 8,000 adiZone search results. Nick Craggs, director of marketing, adidas Area North, sees the zones as a core part of the adidas 2012 legacy commitment: “When adidas announced our London 2012 tier one sponsorship we committed to encouraging and inspiring London’s youth to participate in sport. The adiZones are an initial step towards creating a real legacy and demonstrating the adidas commitment post the Beijing Olympic and Paralympic Games. It is important that free sporting facilities are made available and accessible if we are truly going to get the nation participating in sport.”
The legacy must have legs In June 2008, the DCMS announced a free swimming initiative for the over-60s. £140m of new money would allow 1,600 leisure centres around England to provide free swimming. “Massive sport reform to spearhead 2012 legacy plans”, proclaimed the official press release. Drill down deeper and £80m is available to subsidise admission costs, with the balance allocated to upgrade pools and infrastructure. The £80m admissions fund is for two years only, leading up to 2012. Swimming is one of the most popular activities for England’s 9.9 million over-60s with around 700,000 swimming at least once per month. Once funds are distributed nationwide, it is unlikely to meet the admission charges for the intended group, especially as demand rises. There is also the challenge of centres having to meet additional operating expenses from their existing budgets. In Brighton, the grant totals £66,000 a year. Council leader, Mary Mears, says: “Although government has denied us all the funding we need to meet our costs, we feel this is an opportunity too important to pass up’. However, the impact is that some local authorities and their leisure partners are now wavering and may opt out. And is freeaccess the silver bullet to encourage ‘silver surfers’ into our pools? A friendly and supportive teacher who can genuinely connect with older people, along with appealing facilities are core components to swimming becoming an embedded habit. So, let us now see legacy stakeholders mobilise to close off some of these delivery gaps to ensure that the over 60’s remain swimming beyond London 2012.
Will 2012 win legacy gold? The promises are big and the ambition clear. We now need all those organisations in the activity-
Promise: To make the UK a world-leading sporting nation
Ambition: 2 million additional people, more active by 2012
Promise: Inspire a generation of young people
Core themes Volunteering Going Global
Core themes Removing barriers to exercise Programme example £140 million swimming fund for the over 60’s Healthier families Creating better physical activity environments Better co-ordination with Primary Care Trusts
Ambition: 3 million young people overseas accessing quality sport
Programme examples International Inspiration International Education Engaging students in Olympic values Trying cultural activities Programme example Cultural Olympiad
Targeting the least active Programme example Fit for the future
delivery business to step forward and take action. Sport England with its newly focused role in nurturing community sport now has responsibility for delivering one million of the two million target, but there remains ambiguity around the issue of ‘new’ participants or existing individuals simply doing more sport. The legacy success has to be based on inspiring new people to get moving, not showering the fitness enthusiast with incentives. It is a hugely ambitious target. As I write, there are 1,381 days before London lights the Olympic cauldron, which means 1,448 new individuals have to be coaxed away from the sofa, every day to meet the legacy target. That represents the typical membership of a mid-sized health club. Plans to create a new Sports Legacy Board comprising the UK’s major stakeholders and participation delivery partners will help to monitor progress, but action as well as oversight is required. The DoH, which is coordinating the ‘health legacy’ now needs to pick up the pace. Next year’s £75m Change4Life strategy should build momentum. I wonder what strategic plans UK-wide leisure operators presently have in hand to leverage the
2012 opportunity. Many may wait to be served up ready-packaged programmes and then deliberate over their value. Others will dive in, minds open and explore. Some regions have been very quick out of the block, such as the Northwest which published ‘Be Inspired’, its 2012 legacy strategy with 50 objectives back in May 2007. Where are the others? Recently, I surveyed the UK leisure trust sector (servicing 210 million customer visits per annum) to understand how they were leveraging the opportunity. Let me be diplomatic and say, that with 1,381 days to go, they did not yet have much to report. Now is the time to change that. Steve Redgrave would sometimes faint following a tough training session; surely, we all have the capacity to pursue our own passions a little bit harder if we put our minds to it. If Olympians are prepared to invest years for a few seconds on the track, surely we can encourage more people to spend a few minutes each day in activity to ensure that London 2012 really does become an event that moved a nation. Ray Algar, MBA, is managing director of Oxygen Consulting (oxygen-consulting.co.uk). Call 01273 885 998 or email email@example.com.
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