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Moynihan voices London 2012 legacy doubts

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David Bond | 15:11 UK time, Wednesday, 21 September 2011

They might come from different ends of the political spectrum, but Tory peer and British Olympic Association chairman Lord Moynihan has joined former Labour sports minister Richard Caborn in criticising the current strategy to deliver on London's grand sporting legacy promises.

Caborn is giving a well-trailed speech to the Sports and Recreation Trust Association in Birmingham on Wednesday in which he will describe the plans as "disastrous" and warn that unless there is a change of direction the country will 'fail completely'.

In my interview with Moynihan on Monday, he echoed those concerns, repeating long held fears that the nation is running out of time to deliver on the promises that played such a big part in London's victory over Paris and Madrid back in 2005.

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He told me: "The reason the BOA looked to bid to host these Games originally was in part because it would lead to a step change in sport throughout the whole country, not just in east London but the whole country.

"We are a long way from delivering that step change. There's a great deal of work to be done in schools and school sports and connecting with the private sector. This is so important at a time when there are cutbacks in the public sector and when 60% of local authorities are reducing the time available for sport.

"As I go around the country I see that we have got an inspired effect from the Games, there's inspiration. But I want to see the bricks and mortar that will be the lasting sports legacy. More pitches, changing rooms and playing fields not being sold off. That's the bricks and mortar I want to look back at after the Games and say that was the legacy of London 2012."

Asked who was to blame he said: "It's been a matter for governments and it's been difficult because of the economic difficulties. It's easy to focus on an extra £50m to £100m for security or an extra £50m to £100m for transport.

"It's been more difficult to persuade governments and politicians that just as important is the sports legacy and raising the bar."

Increasing sports participation among the general public remains the hardest test for the government and sports bodies. Caborn's Labour government vowed to increase the number of people playing sport three times or more a week by one million by 2013. However, latest figures from Sport England suggest there has been only a modest increase of 111,000 since 2007.

A second target of getting a further one million people taking more exercise every week has been dropped by the coalition government.

Separately the drive to boost sports facilities has been hit by cuts to local authority spending and despite now channelling millions of pounds a year for participation projects through each of the sports governing bodies, the government seems powerless to reverse that trend at a time of major cutbacks for councils.

The target of delivering a successful Games with a successful British team is on track. But the issue of a national sporting legacy is no closer to being resolved.


  • Comment number 1.

    How will there be a legacy when tickets are offered to school children to watch football. A game they see week in and week out, played by some of the worst role models in the sporting world. The whole bid was based on getting children involved in different sports. A possible Olympics trip for our school has had to be re-thought becuase the organisers haven't put aside extra tickets for school children who could then become inspired to take up different sports.

  • Comment number 2.

    Sport in this country is a bit of a joke. The actual success's of our Triathletes, our sailors and our rowers is hidden away in the darkest corners of the media, whilst our forever underachieving "footballers" take the lime light. How many of you know for example, that the world #1 squash player is British? Not many I bet....

    If there is a hope for British Sport, it needs to change now. We need to wake up and see that we really do have world leading sports people that we should aspire to be. Money it seems is more important than national pride. How many kids are hoodwinked into believing that sport ends at football? Teach them young in the schools, dedicate more time and money to the future....

  • Comment number 3.

    This government are propped up by big business, a lot of the money made by big business comes from the electronic chip revolution that takes kids off of the playing fields and plonks them firmly on their Sofa's.

    There is not a chance in hell of the coalition turning their back on their money cow to deliver a healthy option for the school children.

  • Comment number 4.

    Once the Olympics are over it will be every sport / activity for itself without a government led support structure to link school, clubs and societies. Survival of the most popular or TV friendly (football usually) will be the order of the day in grassroots sport.

    Forget about 'new' entrants into sport the existing membership of sports clubs and societies have been let down. Where were the tickets for the devoted young athletes dreaming of 2016 and beyond?

    As far as I'm aware there has been no strategic involvement with UK sporting bodies for life post Olympics, they will be on their own. Investment in the Olympics has drawn funding away from a wide spectrum of sports at grass roots level (even with an element of private investment) and focused on a short term goal to inspire through Olympic achievement and creating role models.

    The pursuit of the Olympics has been at a cost and has setback any development plans to improve our existing (nationwide) facilities, grow participation in real terms and attract volunteers, the latter in very short supply in tough times.

    This has all undermined any true sporting (not just Olympic) legacy but no one will admit it in Government an hour running around in a junior school playground or dancing is enough to meet their targets!

  • Comment number 5.

    @ 3: if you want to make this political, it was the Labour governments of the 1960's and 1970's that declared war on school sports, on the grounds that they were elitist. Many extremely well equipped government schools were closed down and sports fileds turned over for development during that period. Now that there's big money to be made out of sporting events and sporting success they're suddenly interested again.
    To be balanced, there is also growing concern over Britain's youth become obese and sedentary in front of the TV and computer. And it has been discovered that sports can actually encourage the development of positive human traits, such as self-improvement, compassion, fair play, teamwork and a healthy lifestyle.

  • Comment number 6.

    Just 2 points

    1. The whole 'legacy' issue of the Olympics (and Football World Cup) is a charade of over promise and under delivery, for proof see the under utilised or even redundant sports facilities in South Africa, Greece etc etc. Bidders should be required to demonstrate their ability to deliver a successful event over 4 to 6 weeks and nothing else.

    2. It is not the role of 'Government' in democratic societies to 'deliver' sporting opportunities. When my sons were growing up my wife and I provided them with basic equipment and took them out several times a week after school and work to play football, cricket, bowling and whatever else they might enjoy. They have followed this example with their own children, without the need for expensive state 'facilities' or 'programmes'

  • Comment number 7.

    @ 5 I agree that there is growing awareness of the benefits of sport but at Primary school level where skills should be nurtured/found it is upto the sports clubs and volunteers. The schools focus is overwhelmingly academic except for specific events. The idea of food education focuses on obesity not on fuel for energetic /sportsminded children.

  • Comment number 8.

    In 2002 a survey was conducted by the government that found that 25% of children between the age of 5-16 were receiving 2 hours of PE a week in state schools. Therefore the School Sport Partnership was set up which delivered PE by qualified coaches to school children. By 2010 in the South East of England almost a 100% of children between the age of 5-16 were receiving at least 2 or more hours of PE a week. The School Sport Partnership was the most successful of the last governments policy and is the only government strategy that was completely cut by the coalition.

    Forget about legacy post Olympics this government does not care about PE for school children they are expecting volunteers to provide PE through schools with no funding.

  • Comment number 9.

    Yaun...once again another waste of typing, how can Richard Caborn critise something we was a part of? Oh yes, he's not in Government anymore, double standards by the bloke who didnt do much to help Sports while in Government!

    Theres is a legacy post 2012, you wont be seeing it yet because we havent had the events yet! Why bicker and point when we have the greatest Sporting Event in the World in the UK?

  • Comment number 10.

    @8 totally with you so many SSP representatives lost their funding/jobs and now it is down to the clubs to re-establish links with schools.

  • Comment number 11.

    Olympic Dreams ..... Olympic Legacy ..... for school children ........ really, really important!

    And then, School Sports Partnerships were dismantled!

    Now how can small primary schools access the plethora of sports coaching which was available?

    We are left to scrimp and save to facilitate just a taster of what was on offer!

    Thanks, Mr Gove and company!

  • Comment number 12.

    The Olympic Games truly IS the greatest festival of sport in the world. After all the machinations regarding the funding and the huge costs associated with staging this incredible event, London 2012 will I'm sure, be an inspiring and incredible event.

    However, the Olympic Games has NEVER increased participation in any meaningful or sustainable way. Sure, a few thousand kids will have a go at all sorts of sport-related activity in the lead up to the games. There will be hundreds of initiatives which will be heralded in the papers and on TV throughout 2012 and it will be good PR - but it will not increase long term participation and never could have done. For the organisers to claim otherwise has always been foolish and misleading.

    Increased participation is driven by enthusiastic amateurs who donate many hours of spare time to give children and young people the chance to participate in sport. It is the effective support and encouragement of these volunteers that will yield increased participation and it isn't happening.

    When effective programmes and initiatives are in place to encourage and support these vital volunteers then we MAY get somewhere. PR stunts and photo opportunities will not do it.

    We will struggle, as all other countries have, to avoid having derelict and underused stadiums littering the country in the wake of an otherwise successful games.

  • Comment number 13.

    The influence of "well trusted" politicians on the public is surely minimal - Media is what will drive "Legacy"
    I think @King Henry VIII has it right - minor sports in which we have good role models and international success are under reported, or ignored entirely, yet football covers several pages front (drugs/GBH/drunkeness) and back of papers (our national team hype followed by failure....)
    Politicians should keep trying, but I think journalists should stop criticising them, and back them or act in some way to provoke interest in our unreported sports

  • Comment number 14.

    #6 I'm a volunteer coach - average parents have less time & money than ever and we are tasked with providing sporting opportunities. I encourage my kids to try all sports but many can't give-up their time.

    But running any sports club to the expected standard including govt accreditation levels for H&S and Child welfare takes time and money. So on one hand the govt wants us to be responsible for these sports activities, facilities and create role models but on the other makes us jump through bureacratic hoops.

  • Comment number 15.

    Alot of people probably know about the #1 ranked squash player being british as there was an article about it in the metro this week, also commenting on the fact that currently 7 of the top 30 are also british.

  • Comment number 16.

    When I was a kid during a summer when the Olympics was on TV I remember we 'played' Olympics in the street. We had running races at different distances, high jump, long jump, we went swimming and raced over different distances with different stokes - all sorts. It caught our imagintion - but there was nowhere to take it for us whose parents couldn't take us all over the place and there is nowhere now for the kind of street kid I was. The legacy needs to be that there is somewhere - for everyone, not just kids whose parents can pay.

  • Comment number 17.

    There is substantial evidence that Sport England have known this to be the case for years. They have consistently ignored the concerns raised by grass roots clubs that the funding being given to elite side of sport is having a detrimental impact at grass roots levels. Statistical driven civil servants with no concept of grass roots sports have spent millions over the past 5 years funding elite sport at the expense of grass roots - the result? Very little. We have still been unable to produce a tennis world champion. Our athletics team still regard 2 gold medals as "over achievement" and despite the millions of pounds of public investment into elite sport we will still finish 4th or 5th in the Olympics. Meanwhile, grass roots has and will continue to suffer. As a footnote, it is interesting to note what SE define as "participation and inclusion". In my opinion, there is evidence to suggest that their claims are both exagerated and misleading. For eaxample, in amateur boxing they recently made the astonishing claim that more than 20,000 women are now involved in amateur boxing. When you dig a bit deeper you actually discover that there are fewer than 100 women actually competing or registered as "competitive" amateur boxing and the remainder, (19,900+), are actually "keep fitters" who participate in "boxing related activity" for more than 30 minutes 3 times per week. e.g. boxercise, skipping, boxeraerobics etc. And where did Sport England get these astonishing figures from? The President of the Amateur Boxing Association of England who, coincidentally, is none other than Richard Caborn!

  • Comment number 18.

    question - what (if any) are the penalties for not delivering on the legacy promises made in the bid?

    I think we can call a goat a goat and declare that economic issues (its the excuse that any govt is going to throw out) have caused the failure in this.

    Obviously basics such as tickets for schools and encouragement for school "olympic" events (although most can't because that would need winners to be identified and poor Jonnie who didn't win a medal might feel rotten and start to riot or something!!!!) would have at least provided the opportunity to inspire the next generation (small steps...) but then since when has a government done "simple"- its against the Quango policy!!

  • Comment number 19.

    @17 I love the stat re women in boxing!! As I ran for a bus the other day do you think the gov will include me in the athletics program numbers - Come on Mr Caborn please define me as an athlete!!!

  • Comment number 20.


    Completely wrong there i'm afraid. Caborn was at the heart of the SSP which changed sports in schools beyond belief. This has all come crashing down due to the Tories. My brother ran the football team and a few different primary schools. With him there was a tag rugby coach, netball coach, chess coach, music teacher, martial arts and dance.

    The only one left is the chess teacher and I believe he is now being asked to pay to hire a room in the school. Cutting school sports will be a legacy of this current government and one which will have a detrimental effect on generations to come.

  • Comment number 21.

    The biggest issue for sport in this country is the cost. If your child reaches a certain standard then the amount of money needed to maintain this is huge. In addition government and local councils are not doing enough. My 9 year old daughter is a promising swimmer and trains up to 9 hours per week. Yet her club in Essex are treated like a major inconvenience at the local council run pool, despite the thousands of pounds in revenue that they are generating. The worst thing that happended was the scrapping of the free swimming scheme that the last governement introduced. Surely by increasing regular partcipation money will be saved in the long term from NHS budgets if we try to make the poplulation healthier. Another example of political short termism!!!!!

  • Comment number 22.

    This olympics to many people who cannot afford tickets will be just the same as many olympics in the past. We've all had to chip in to something we all won't be able to watch fully, And have to pay more to watch sports that the BBC has cut from its programme lists to make way for this overpriced event.
    Short term gain, long term loss.
    After the olympics there won't be many more events then Tennis, Match of the Day and the marathons that are on once in a blue moon.
    And the F1, but who wants to watch half a season...

  • Comment number 23.

    A key part of the legacy, quite rightly, was school sport. The disbanding of the School Sports Partnerships admistered by the Youth Sport Trust has meant school sport has suffered drastically, particularly in primary schools. This moved appeared nothing more than the Tories wanting to distance themselves from a succesful Labour iniative. The new school games idea is a bit of a joke, it seams an after thought and shows how little the government know about school sport and its ability to inspire children in our schools through 2012. The legacy will be nothing more than a few facilities for the people of London.

  • Comment number 24.

    Legacy of the Aquatics centre post olympics our young swimmers will be desparate to get in a nice new 50m pool facility and follow the same path as Addlington & Co BUT they will have to wait until 2014 and will have probably have to pay extortionate hire fees to offset £1m a year running costs. See linked article..

  • Comment number 25.

    You can lead a horse to water but you can'tmake it drink.
    Does everyone not relise that an additional reason more kids aren't taking part is because they don't want to?
    Not saying computers and tv are the only thing kids want but it's a damn sight better than having to get up on a Sunday morning to go and play football in the mud and cold. There will always be kids who are sporty, just as there will always be kids that are nerdy and would never think of playing sports. Even if the best facilities in the world were made available and at cost does anyone seriously think they would then be swarming with children?
    I don't believe it.

    The new takeup on the lead up to the olympics is awful but don't go thinking it's all the governments fault. Some just couldn't care less.


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