As of today, we the UK are officially the luckiest country in the world - the London 2012 Olympic Games are here!
The Olympics are upon us – a much needed antidote to the continual influx of bad news on the economy.
But what about after the Games?
Will we have to return to morbid news headlines, or will the world’s biggest sporting event leave us with a much needed, enriching legacy?
Shadow Olympics minister Tessa Jowell recently wrote in the Young Fabians magazine Anticipations:
“We were determined that the Games would be more than just sixty days of Olympic and Paralympic sport and wanted them to be a catalyst for lasting change.”
LOCOG has dedicated a whole section of the London 2012 website to how they intend to implement ‘lasting change’ after the Games – here are some examples of how we will benefit after the Games:
The International Inspiration programme has already helped children across the globe get involved in sport in a number of different countries. Sports participation leads to a healthier lifestyle, improved educational performance and the opportunity to develop leadership and teamwork skills. The programme also aims for more inclusion in sport, especially for girls and disabled people – something that is in dire need of encouragement as Left Foot Forward reported yesterday.
The redevelopment of East London in preparation for the Games offered the UK construction industry an unprecedented boost. The London 2012 website explains how they used this opportunity to be inclusive:
The Games have provided thousands of people with jobs and training during a difficult time for the economy, leaving long-term social and economic benefits for London and the UK.
London 2012 developed employment and training programmes with partner organisations and contractors to encourage women, black, Asian and minority ethnic people (BAME), disabled people, and those who were previously unemployed to improve their skills and apply for jobs in construction and other areas where they have traditionally been under-represented.
These innovative schemes included the Women into Construction project, which recruited and placed women directly into jobs on the Olympic Park.
It is hoped that the Park itself will be an asset to London long after the athletes have left. Half of the Olympic and Paralympic Villages will be transformed into affordable housing, with the rest being available for sale or rent. A number of the venues will stay for the use of the community and green spaces will be transformed into parks for the locals.
As LOCOG point out:
75p of every £1 the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) spent was an investment in the long-term transformation of the area.
The Games has also been a big benefit to UK businesses with tens of thousands of jobs created and £7 billion worth of contracts generated by the Games. These contracts also demanded good business practice, so many companies have improved their health and safety, inclusion and equality policies.
Any critics of the £9 billion budget for the Games will struggle in the face of this evidence. As of today, we are officially the luckiest country in the world, as the world’s biggest sporting event is about to take off and its positive effects will be felt for years to come.