The legacy of London 2012 – a model for the Olympics

The legacy of London 2012 – a model for the Olympics

Lord Coe, Olympic Ambassador for the UK
A year ago London hosted one of the most successful Olympic and Paralympic Games in living memory. Millions of people throughout the world saw the very best that Britain had to offer both on and off the track. The remarkable achievements of Team GB and Paralympics GB have been a catalyst for regeneration, growth and optimism throughout the country. The legacy continues to have a positive impact on every aspect of British life, from the amount of sport we do to the volume of goods and services we export.

This did not happen by accident. Our legacy planning was hailed by the International Olympic Committee as a “blueprint” for future games. By 2022 we will have used the inspirational power of 2012 to deliver lasting change in the UK – to our attitude to sport, to the relationships in our communities, to our economy, to the face of the east of London and in our awareness of disability.

The economic benefits of the Games to the United Kingdom cannot be overestimated. All across the country, businesses large and small responded to the unique opportunity, supplying high quality goods and services to the Games. In doing so they demonstrated the capacity of UK business to innovate and deliver. Since the Olympic closing ceremony, it is estimated that the Games-related economic benefit totals £9.9 billion, far exceeding initial expectations. Preliminary figures also show an initial £2.5 billion boost to Foreign Direct Investment as a result of the games, bringing with it more than 31,000 new jobs.

The benefits to local business have extended beyond the Games and show that the expertise gained from hosting an Olympics can help companies internationalise and take advantage of opportunities surrounding other major events. We estimate that UK companies have won over £100m (120 million euros) in deals from the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Brazil. British companies have also won 60 contracts for the upcoming Winter Games in Sochi in Russia, encompassing everything from architecture and design services to consultancy and equipment supply. Hosting the Games brings the world to the host city but it also helps take businesses from the host city to the world.

The Games continue to boost tourism. We estimate that the volume of international tourist visitors to the UK will grow by 3 percent this year alone, meaning an extra one million overseas tourists will come to the UK in 2013. We are aiming for 4.6 million additional tourists to have visited the UK by 2015 as a result of the Games, bringing a benefit of £2.3bn. Like the UK, Turkey already receives large numbers of international tourists, and the successful bidder for the 2020 Games – whether Madrid, Istanbul or Tokyo – will win the opportunity to further boost an already considerable international profile and reap long-term benefits to tourism and the economy in general.

A key aspect of any successful Games legacy is the ability to reuse and repurpose the venues and infrastructure that have been created for the Games. The Olympic Park was planned from the beginning as an integral part of London which would provide homes and facilities for generations to come. As planned, we have secured the future of all eight of the permanent venues at the Olympic Park. The Stadium will now be used all year round for a number of different uses including football, athletics – not least the IAAF World Athletics Championships and the IPC Para Athletics Championships in 2017 – and various music and cultural events. The transformation of the Olympic Park is now well underway and the first residents have begun moving in. When complete, the transformation will bring up to 8,000 new homes, complete with schools and health centers in what was once one of London’s most deprived areas.

Of course the legacy of London 2012, and one to which I attach particular importance, centers on helping to redefine how we think about sport and physical activity in the UK. From grass roots activities to elite sports, the Government is encouraging and facilitating involvement across the board. We set out to create “a habit for a lifetime” so that people view sport and physical activity as part of their daily lives. Research conducted tells us we’re on target, with more people in England regularly taking part in sport.

We set out to “inspire a generation.” This will be a long journey but everything is in place for success and the signs that it is working are beginning to appear. We hope that the London experience will be repeated in other cities in the future, ensuring that a successful four-week Olympic and Paralympic sporting event provides the host nation with an enduring economic and social legacy.