Olympic legacy and financial crisis

10 Oct 2008 by Karl Hallam

With high profile Premier League football teams' sponsors going bust or being bailed out (if there is a difference between those two events) the implications of the credit crunch on sport have already been highlighted in the media. There has also been some discussion of how the 2012 Olympics will need to be cheaper/nationalised/smaller. More worrying is that it sounds like the financial crisis is also offering the opportunity for the planners of the Games to wriggle out of their commitments to grassroots sport and increased participation.

London famously nicked 2012 from Paris by saying they were doing it for the kids and that the Games would be the catalyst to transform us from a nation of couch potatoes facing an obesity epidemic into a country of whatever the opposite of couch potatoes is.

Matthew Taylor, Chief Executive of the RSA, blog on an Olympic legacy meet he attended this week says that 'When London bid for, and after it won, the Olympics much was made of the intention massively to increase sporting participation, particularly among disadvantaged groups. This intention seems to have been largely abandoned'. That is pretty stark, but to us not really surprising.

When we did work with ippr on the Government's sport policy we went to discuss it with Matthew Taylor, when he was still at Number 10 working on strategy. We got the impression then that there was still, to Matthew's frustration, not the understanding in central government of what sport could and could not deliver. Tony Blair and others often talked about sport as the best health or crime policy, but it was only really in returning sport into schools that there was real progress.

The real danger is that the growing dependance of grassroots sport on volunteer effort and private funds means that teams and clubs in the more deprived areas will be ones to suffer the most if the Olympics follows the usual path of ending up being all about finding a way to get the facilities built on time and anywhere near on budget.

David Conn of the Guardian writes good stuff on this topic, but struggles to get the newspaper to give it enough prominence ... perhaps they're always more interested in the next Premier League sponsor scandal.

More sport and obesity views can be found here and here.


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