Last Sunday the second round of tickets sales for next year’s London Olympics closed, with over 750,000 tickets for numerous sporting events being allocated. This now brings the overall ticket sales for next year’s sporting showpiece to in excess of 3.5 million. The games seem to have finally started to stimulate some excitement amongst the British public and one can only hope that this excitement builds to a crescendo in perfect time for what should be an occasion to be truly proud of.
However, whilst the logistical challenge of hosting a successful Olympic Games is obviously of great importance, the real challenge facing the organisers is that of leaving behind a positive and permanent legacy. So what can Lord Coe and his cohort do to provide this much talked about legacy?
Firstly, and in my opinion most importantly, is raising mass participation levels amongst the Great British public and in particular the nation’s youth. Inactivity and obesity levels are rapidly becoming a major problem in our society and catalyst is desperately needed to kick start a push for greater participation and a healthier mind-set. The Olympics therefore could be a godsend, if the games can capture the attention of our nation’s young through positive role models and a sporting atmosphere then participation may just improve. However, this needs to be backed up by financial investment in new facilities and schemes to promote participation.
Secondly, an issue which has been jumped on recently by the press to illustrate the pitfalls of the organising committee; the Olympic Stadium and how it will be used once the games are over. West Ham is currently the first choice to move into the stadium, with a key part of their bid being the promise to maintain the athletics track. In my opinion maintaining the track is of upmost importance as it would provide both a high quality facility for holding future events and serve to inspire countless youngsters to take part and run on the same track as Usain Bolt.
However it is not just the Olympic Stadium which will remain, there will be a host of other venues which if the organisers are serious about providing a lasting legacy, must be maintained and opened up to community use. The presence of such wonderful facilities in a deprived area such as Stratford, can only have a positive effect, that is, as long as, the facilities are offered at reasonable rates and are kept in good working order. Who knows, maybe the next Kelly Holmes or Chris Hoy will come out of Stratford, the new home of the Olympic Games, now wouldn’t that be a positive legacy?
Only time will tell if London 2012 can leave a positive legacy for future generations, but one thing is for sure, if there is no lasting impact then the games will be no doubt be deemed an abject failure, and quite rightly so.