The latest advertisement campaign of ‘Visit Britain’ — the official tourism agency of the U.K. Government — seen displayed prominently at the Heathrow airport and elsewhere is ample testimony of how the British continue to cherish the five-ring party that London threw for the rest of the world between July 27 and August 12 last year. It simply reads: ‘Memories Are Great.’
Yet, it should not be seen that the British are standing still soaking in the feel-good factor of having hosted the Olympic Games in London for a record third time. They are now quietly translating the gains, both in terms of infrastructure and expertise, by putting in place a legacy plan for the good of the local community and deprived sportspersons elsewhere in the world.
This legacy plan was a core part of the planning process for the £11 billion Games and in tune with what Lord Sebastian Coe famously said, while seeking support for the London bid at the crucial IOC meeting in Singapore in 2005, that the 2012 Games, if given to the British capital, would connect young people not only in England but elsewhere as well to sport.
Briefing visiting journalists from eight countries, including India, last week on the various aspects of the legacy plan in London, Ms. Emma Boggis, Head of the Olympic and Paralympic Legacy unit, said all four strands of the plan were firmly off the ground and overwhelming results were expected within the next few years.
“The primary aim behind the hosting of the Games was to build top class infrastructure, conduct the Games successfully and to put it to good use in the future. And we are happy that having gone through the first two phases in the expected fashion, the third phase too is panning out nicely,” she said.
While the first strand of the plan relates to the industrial and tourism sectors which are expected to see enormous growth in the coming years, the second aims at regeneration of the East London area which, when compared to the rich West London area, has seen tardy growth over the years.
The third aim of the plan is to seek sports being taken up by the youth in large numbers thus leading to healthy living in all sections of British society. The fourth aims at ensuring that the sports infrastructure established as part of the Games is made good use of by local communities.
The larger vision of the plan will be an improved performance at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics by Team Great Britain thus arresting the trend of host countries of previous Games being unable to perform well at future Games.
In order to achieve this aim, the British Government has already earmarked an increased funding of £1 billion towards the promotion of elite sports, development of existing infrastructure and its protection, creation of new sports centres and increased participation in sports with emphasis on Olympic and Parlaympic disciplines.
Ms. Boggis also said that the nearly 70,000 volunteers, who with their sheer enthusiasm made it possible for London to host the Games successfully, would continue to play an important part in the legacy plan.
“Our aim is to sustain the progress achieved through the hosting of the Games. It is a long-term process and through the next 10 years, we are aiming substantial progress in many spheres of life, including sports, as a result of hosting the Games in London last summer,” she said.