The 2012 UK Olympics are coming and with them the potential to offer the nation far more than encouragement to partake in sports activities and to get fitter. They could assist with government cross-cutting agendas such as tackling crime, antisocial behaviour, developing healthy and active communities, improving educational attainment, and combating barriers to participation. This article considers the promising sustainable sporting, social, cultural and economic legacies the games could deliver.
The London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games have the unique potential to deliver sustainable sporting, social, cultural, economic and environmental legacies, not just for London as the host city, but for the whole of Britain. This article focuses primarily on the first three of these potential Olympics legacies.
The first area explored is educational and cultural legacy of the 2012 Games are examined; and finally, there follows an overview of the health benefits that could result from a sustained increase in mass participation in sport, physical activity and exercise. This appraisal is undertaken through a review of existing Olympic literature and examples are drawn from previous summer and winter Games. This preliminary exploration is followed by the identification of some key challenges to be overcome if the opportunities available to a wide and diverse range of stakeholders are to be fully optimized. The article suggests that the 2012 Games can act as a catalyst for sports development throughout Britain, while also assisting with government cross-cutting agendas such as tackling crime, antisocial behaviour, developing healthy and active communities, improving educational attainment, and combating barriers to participation. In doing so, this article argues that priority should be placed at supporting grassroots sport through greater access to sport in the community, and not solely elite level sports development. The article concludes by suggesting that the 2012 Games provide opportunities to deliver real and tangible changes and most importantly, to afford a higher priority to sport, along with the associated health benefits for Britain as a whole. The underlying challenge as we move towards 2012 is to achieve a positive step change in the attitudes towards sport and physical activity in British society. Achieving this would possibly be the greatest legacy of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.