Government must deliver on Olympic legacy promise

August 10, 2009

robertson1- Hugh Robertson is the opposition Conservatives’ Olympics spokesman. The views expressed are his own. -

With three years to go, it is remarkable that London 2012 is going so well.

London’s Olympics were launched with a massive government miscalculation that resulted in the budget having to be increased threefold, were based on a plan that required us to build two Terminal 5s in half the time and have had to contend with the worst economic recession in living memory.

Despite this, the construction process remains on time and nearly on budget, the organising committee have raised more than £500 million in sponsorship and our athletes have given London 2012 a considerable boost by winning a record haul of medals in Beijing.

However, among all the plaudits, it is sensible to sound a note of caution.

The construction process is only just over one third complete and much remains to be done to a tight and immoveable deadline. Many of the major operational challenges for The organising committee lie ahead such as balancing the budget, finalising the venues, ticketing and the content of the opening and closing ceremonies. Finally, it is a considerable challenge to get our athletes to replicate, or exceed, their performance in Beijing.

In short, if you were writing a school report, you would probably conclude that London 2012 has started well but much remains to be done. You would also warn against too much self congratulation!

The major outstanding issue is legacy. It is a worry that neither the main stadium nor the broadcast and media centre have key anchor tenants and there has been little progress on delivering the promise, made when we won the bid, to use London 2012 to reengage young people in sport.

This is important for one simple reason. If we transform the area around Stratford but leave no more people enjoying the opportunities available through sport, we will have missed a once in a lifetime opportunity.

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