A recent BBC survey suggests that two thirds of the UK believe that the £9 billion spent on the Olympics was worth it, but does the feel good factor still remain and is the much coveted legacy still strong? A year on I am wondering if the games, that surpassed more than triple their original budget of £2.4 billion were really worth the cash and what we have gained by footing the bill for the games?
The year following the Olympics has been one of record tourism and foreign investment into the capital topped off with economic growth, said to be at £4 billion. But ‘how much of this is down to the Olympics’ is currently being contested. After all the claims being made by Boris Jonson and other such officials, it has been hard for us to see the economic impact of the Olympics in the following year as many people have stated they have seen little or no change in their local leisure and sports facilities. Perhaps this is to blame for the lack of participation in sport when we expected it to soar?
Although we all felt the whole event was electrifying, many people shied away when asked what sports they’d taken up since the Olympics, after all, it was supposed to transform us into a nation of athletes wasn’t it? 88% of people who were polled on the issue said they were guilty of exercising no more than they did before the Olympics. Is it because we, as a nation were mesmerised by the Olympics for the summer of 2012, and that nostalgia of the ‘Best Olympic and Paralympic games ever’ remains just that, rather than motivation when we ourselves have seen little physical change in our local environments since.
Through all this negativity, it then occurred to me, it hit me like a shot-put if you like, that perhaps this £9 billion investment was long overdue. We expect a sufficient amount of money to be poured into education, but perhaps this was an investment that would teach us a lesson we had needed for a long time, one that highlighted two things: The importance of sport, and investment in those who aren’t ‘directly’ academic and realisation that their true talent may not sit at a desk in the classroom but lies on a track or field. It also taught me that holding the Olympics, together as a nation would provide us with some priceless rewards…
I think the Olympics has been paramount in inspiring young children and giving them the dream that they could one day be an Olympian. Admittedly a distant and perhaps irrelevant dream for most of them, but this was truly an opportunity to underline the importance of hard work and the rewards it can reap (and this certainly encapsulates our nation’s spirit, it could only be more British with a side order of cucumber sandwiches).
This was an event capable of seizing and detaining young children’s attention and teaching them a positive attitude that can only propel them further through their childhood and through education. I think this alone proves it was money well spent if it can promote such a healthy attitude and such an elated feeling across the country even if it was twelve months ago.
For those people who like to see something physical, I think the Olympic Park itself is another part of the legacy left behind, the area underwent a fantastic rejuvenation process, and it has created a permanent venue with affordable and advanced leisure facilities for the local community and those who wish to travel and visit. The increased number of visitors to the area means the investments into the borough have soared and will continue to do as Queen Elizabeth Country Park stands there to host popular and reputable events, boosting the economy further, and of course as a reminder than within that Park and on those tracks we managed to boost our medal count up to 65, impressive compared to 2008’s 47.
I cannot be sure that economically, the Olympics has achieved all that much for the country, but I am passionate and positive that it gave many people an experience and memories to encourage new attitudes and help shape future aspirations. The Olympics inspired a substantial increase in volunteering, a sense of community spirit, a huge dose of patriotism, even a ‘Hello’ on the tube to one another (we can all appreciate how scarce those are).
A sense of togetherness. The total cost of the Olympics to the tax payer is still unclear, but taxes are usually spent on mundane and perhaps grim causes, but this was inspirational, a rare gem for our money to be spent on and it provided us with things that money simply cannot buy. The ‘Mobot’.
The Olympics united a nation and inspired patriotism to astronomical level and I definitely think it has left us all dancing to the same tune, ‘God save our gracious Queen, long live our noble Queen, God save the Queen! Send her victorious, happy and glorious, long…’ (If you’ll pardon the puns).