The UK should start planning now on the basis that London has won the 2012 Olympics according to joint research published by the Institute for Public Policy Research (ippr) and Demos. Otherwise, if the London bid is ultimately successful, it risks following previous host cities in struggling to ensure there is a lasting legacy to the Games.
After the Gold Rush, argues that past Games have not always lived up to bold promises of long-term employment, social housing, increased sports participation or even increased numbers of tourists. However, Barcelona in 1992 demonstrated that by integrating the Games within a broader regeneration strategy, it is possible to deliver some lasting benefits. The report concludes that a significant amount of any legacy will be delivered before the Games are held. The UK must learn from the Barcelona model in order to fully benefit from any Olympic effect.
The ippr/Demos report argues that most host cities have lacked a pre-Games legacy strategy and often got fixated on building iconic stadiums. London has made an early start on considering these issues, for example through the establishment of a legacy board, but a lot more work will need to be done to capture lasting benefit.
The report analyses data from the past five summer Games and shows that in some cases benefits have not tended to be shared by the people and places most in need. In Atlanta 1996, house prices rocketed and few new houses were built. In fact 5000 units were cleared. In Sydney 2000 the stadium at Homebush Bay remains poorly integrated with the rest of the city and the facilities are struggling to find post-Olympic uses and there is a current budget shortfall of Australia$46 million a year for the running costs of the facilities. Although it is too early to tell, with Athens 2004, the tourist campaign came too late with hotel rooms and tickets going spare.
- Staging of Street Olympics in pubs and community centres around the country. The aim would be to promote grassroots participation and create ownership of the Olympics in neighbourhoods throughout the UK.
- Establishing an Olympic Employment Taskforce to match the needs of employers with unemployed people. Through close collaboration with employers, the taskforce would be able to anticipate skills shortages and develop training programmes.
- Creating an Olympic Volunteer Army who could contribute time and enthusiasm in the months and years leading up to the Games. Volunteering would be encouraged all over the UK, with volunteers’ contributing to their local community as well as in the Games.
- Promoting a Health City in the Olympic zone and five surrounding London boroughs by incorporating walking and cycling networks into the area. This would help ensure a lasting legacy of public health and well-being.
Melissa Mean, Demos Senior Researcher said:
“A common Olympic disease is ‘white elephantitis’. It looks like London 2012 have taken the necessary precautions against this, but a sustainable legacy must mean more than just avoiding building facilities that have no post-Games use. The UK has the chance to think creatively about the positive social, cultural, environmental and employment value of the Games- something that should make its bid a winner in the eyes of the IOC and the local community in the years to come.”
Anthony Vigor, ippr Research Fellow said:
“The Olympic Games generates a lot of enthusiasm and is seen as a once in a lifetime opportunity to build new infrastructure and benefit local residents. It is clear that a significant element of any Olympic legacy has to be delivered before the Games begin. But claims about the long-term benefits of Olympic Games made by previous host cities, often do not stand up to scrutiny. By working together from the outset, all those involved have a real opportunity to create a sustainable Olympic legacy for the UK.”
Rt Hon. Tessa Jowell MP, Secretary of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport in her foreword to the report said:
“It is particularly important to understand the message that only by embedding legacy planning into every aspect of our preparation for the Games will we make the most of the opportunities available to us. I am confident that the proposals we submit to the IOC in November will reassure the IOC that we have put legacy planning at the heart of our bid, and give us the best possible chance of winning the vote in Singapore next year.”
Notes to Editors:
- After the Gold Rush: a sustainable Olympics for London edited by Anthony Vigor, Melissa Mean and Charlie Tims, with a foreword by Rt Hon Tessa Jowell MP, Secretary of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport, is available from the ippr and Demos press offices or online.
- London 2012 will formally submit its bid to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on 15th November 2004. The IOC will visit London for an inspection on Feb 16-19th 2005, before the final decision in Singapore on 6th July 2005.
- After the Gold Rush: a sustainable Olympics for London brings together experts in range of regeneration issues. They consider the social, environmental, cultural, sporting, and employment legacies of a 2012 London Olympic Games:
- ‘Whose Gold Rush? The social legacy of a London Olympics’, Mike Raco, University of Reading.
- ‘Making the Games Work? A sustainable employment legacy’, Martin Crookston, Llewelyn Davies.
- ‘Is Green the New Gold? A sustainable Games for London’, Roger Levett, sustainable policy consultant.
- ‘Stuck in the Blocks? A sustainable sporting legacy’, Professor Fred Coalter, University of Stirling.
- ‘Just Another Ceremony? A sustainable cultural legacy’, Keith Khan, The Rich Mix Centre.