The government recently announced the massive £8.92 billion of taxpayer money, used to fund the Olympics, had been repaid.Since the Games, the UK economy has been given a £9.9 billion boost because of increased trade and investment. This increase is inevitably down to the impact of the Games with more firms and governments wanting to buy into the UK’s future.
Hampden Park, Scotland’s national stadium, was used as a venue for the football tournaments, which brought tourism and visitors to the country.
This money isn’t actually being refunded to the taxpayer, so it’s not as if it has been repaid: the government took the money and isn’t going to pay it back. It was calculated that the Games cost £142 per head for every man, woman and child in the UK.
Was it worth it? Despite the fact that very few people actually got hold of seats at the Olympics, a recent BBC survey showed that 65% of Scots said the Olympics was worth all the money.
No one can deny that the Olympics was an amazing event, perhaps the best Games there has been. It was a fantastic 3 weeks of sport and culture climaxed by the ceremonies which showcased Great Britain. The quality of sport reached new heights and hundreds of records were smashed in the process.
Divisions between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland were banished and people were united, willing the team to push for more success; only an event such as this can pull everyone together in support of a common cause.
The big message behind the Olympics was to, as Lord Coe put it, “inspire a generation” and this was the legacy of the Games.
Its aim was to continue the success of British sport and produce the next generation of sport stars who would be better than the last. Moreover, it wished to encourage the development of higher quality sporting facilities which would be made more available to the public. It also saw it as a prime opportunity to improve sporting participation in schools and communities as children would be encouraged to take up sport after seeing the likes of Ennis, Farah and Murray win gold on the television.
Undoubtedly, the success of our Olympic team was very inspiring at first, many children looked up to these sportsmen and sportswomen as heroes, they idolised them.
Initially, there was a boom for sport as children tried to emulate what they had seen on TV. As time passed, this affect started to wear off until the events of last year were no longer at the forefront of children’s minds – the Olympics were no longer ‘inspiring’.
Because of financial difficulties, the government and the legacy team could not fully provide their aims. Have you seen any new sporting facilities in your local community? No, me neither. If there are fewer facilities, fewer people have the opportunity to play sport.
It has also been suggested that participation in sports in schools has not increased either because of lack of funding. Many schools are not prioritising sport of other things and are not actively encouraging their pupils to take up sport.
The Olympics was a huge opportunity to inspire the population to take up sport but if the government don’t act fast, that opportunity could quickly disappear. Let’s hope that the Glasgow Commonwealth Games next year will have more of an effect on improving sport in Scotland. If it does, I want a front row seat.
Image: Olympic rings © Oliver Hopkins (oliverhopkins, flickr)