Friday, March 16, 2012

London bid for the 2012 Summer Olympics: Legacy, Support and Criticism

Planned legacy of the Games

London bid for the 2012 Summer Olympics
The organizing committee paid special attention to the after effects of the games on London, and what they could do to make sure the games left a lasting impression on London and the world. The LOCOG planned out the uses of important stadiums and transportation systems after the games, as well as the social factors of the 2012 legacy.

One of the most prominent of the proposed legacy is the conversion of the Olympic Village into 3,600 apartments, most of which will be affordable housing. Most of Stratford City will be regenerated with the construction of 500,000 more square metres of space.

The committee outlined plans to donate the sports equipment used in the Games to sports clubs and charities in the United Kingdom.

Sports venues

One of the priorities governing the contents of London's bid was to avoid leaving "white elephants" after the games. In order to be sure that important venues and stadiums do not go to waste, the organising committee has planned what to do with them after the games. All venues that will not have a planned use after the games are over will be built as temporary venues.

The 80,000-seat Olympic Stadium will be converted into a 25,000-seat multi-purpose venue to be mainly used for athletics events. The Stadium should become the hub of east London activities when the games end.

The Aquatics Centre after the games will include two 50-metre pools, a 25-metre diving pool and a fitness centre. They will be able to accommodate elite, development, local club and community users. The venue will allow for 3,500 spectators and would host local, national, and worldwide swimming events.

To connect a variety of cycling and walking trails throughout the Lea Valley, the London Velopark will be transformed into a multi-discipline cycling centre. It will be extended further northwards, with the legacy road cycling circuit straddling the A12 and extending into the old Eton Manor site, where the mountain biking area will be located. The transformed stadium will consist of a 3,000-seat velodrome, road track, competition and play BMX tracks, and a mountain biking course for use by all levels of cyclists.

The Olympic Hockey Centre after the games will become a venue providing training and competition facilities for hockey at all levels. It will feature a 5,000 seat arena and a training pitch.

In addition, several of the indoor arenas would be assembled elsewhere in the UK. The construction of the Aquatics Centre and the Velopark was confirmed before London won the Games, so it might be more accurate to call them legacies of the bid rather than of the Games. While the legacy venues would be tailored to London's ongoing needs, some of them would be expensive for that purpose. For example, London will have paid for an 80,000-seat athletics stadium, but will only possess a 25,000-seat stadium.

Social and economic benefits

At the time of the bid, those involved in British sport were hopeful that there would also be a 2012 legacy of increased commitment to sport in the UK, with the social and health benefits they believe that could bring, but it will be difficult to assess whether or not this really happens. Some commentators have argued that it would be better to invest directly in grass roots sport.
Disability organisations including the Autism Awareness Campaign UK were confident that the Olympic and Paralympic Games would encourage people across the disability spectrum to take up sport.

Other legacy items would include the conversion of the Olympic Village Polyclinic into a lifelong learning centre for the east London community with a nursery and primary and secondary schools, and the conversion of the media and press centre into a creative industries centre for east London. The organisers claimed that 3,000 new permanent jobs would be created, but opponents of the games were concerned that some of the 11,000 existing jobs in the Olympic Zone may be lost. It was also hoped that there will be a wider economic effect from the improvements which the games might make to London's image.


The planned transport legacy for the capital included new bus transit schemes, extensions to existing Underground lines, redevelopments of London Underground stations and upgrades to the trains used. There were also to be many upgrades to National Rail services with the Channel Tunnel Rail Link, a new high speed rail link, several new stations and upgrades to stations such as Kings Cross St. Pancras. Please view the Legacy Map in order to see the upgrades to the London Transport network in context.

Opinions of the bid

Support for London 2012 bid for the Summer Olympics

The Head of the IOC evaluation commission praised the passion behind the London 2012 bid when they visited Stratford and other places in the city. The IOC evaluation commission chair Nawal El Moutawakel speaking at a press conference in London observed: "We could feel it, hear it and see it." She added, "It was in every speech and every word."

2012 was seen as a window of opportunity as observers saw Europe as the destination for the Games. Four of the five finalist cities were from Europe.

Support for the bid topped 70% of the people of the United Kingdom and 68% of the people in London, as shown by an opinion poll commissioned by the IOC. Some of the support can be attributed to the city's "Back the Bid" campaign, which included the slogan on posters that were hung around London in the months leading up to the decision to award the 2012 Games to London. Many disability organisations including the Autism Awareness Campaign UK urged all people with disabilities to back the London 2012 bid.

On 17 June 2005, British Prime Minister Tony Blair reiterated the Government's total commitment to London's bid for the 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games. Mr Blair told BBC Five Live that he would be travelling to Singapore with the London delegation to stress the "complete 100% support" of politicians from all the major political parties in the country. "The most important thing is to show people that the Government is absolutely behind the bid", said Mr Blair, who travelled to the Far East before returning to chair the 31st G8 summit at Gleneagles Hotel in Perthshire, Scotland. The leaders of the opposition parties also attended the meeting and expressed their support of the venture.

Criticism of London 2012 bid for the Summer Olympics

Many Londoners have challenged the high cost of the Olympics and the £20 per year council tax rise to fund it as well as the possibility of white elephant sites like the Millennium Dome being left. Additionally there are concerns that unions, including the RMT, will strike near or during the proceedings for bonuses and that construction deadlines will not be met.

Outside of London the success has not been universally welcomed, fearing that the event will divert funding from the rest of the country and that the rest of the United Kingdom will be forced to help fund it, for no benefit. Local business – some extant in this area for over 100 years – have been questioning the package of measures in place to allow them to find new sites when the new Olympic village displaces them.

Comparison has been drawn between the Manchester bid and this one, in terms of the amount of government support, and the overwhelmingly hostile attitude of the London based press to Manchester's bid. Furthermore the cost of travelling and accommodation is set to rise across London which may outprice tourists and leave many events under-attended.

IOC evaluation report on London bid

The International Olympic Committee's evaluation report was generally very positive. It scored poorly on the transportation and public/government support aspects of the evaluation, but received a 10 in accommodations.

London has proposed Games based on providing world-class facilities and services for the athletes, and a legacy for sport and the community. Whilst the Olympic Park would undoubtedly leave a strong sporting and environmental legacy for London, the magnitude of the project, including the planned upgrade and expansion of transport infrastructure, would require careful planning to ensure all facilities and rehabilitation projects were completed on time. Air quality in London at proposed Games-time is generally satisfactory. Increasing levels of ozone pollution are however a concern, but legislation and actions now in place are aimed at correcting that trend. With its rich history, the capacities of UK Paralympic Sport are among the best in the world. Athletes have been closely involved in the planning of the Olympic Village. The east side of the village would appear to be somewhat crowded.


Unio Mystica said...

It was a big blow to Paris when the bid for the London was selected as it was the third failed bid for Paris in last 20 years.

Unio Mystica said...

How people of France are going to react to such mistakes by the Olympic Committee not to place strong bid. It is really very depressing they don't show some will and determination to win the bid for France..

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