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Legacy? What Legacy?

07/03/2017 09:09

Six months have passed since the Summer that was the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and today Brazil's $12 billion Olympic legacy lay in ruins. Abandoned venues, crumbling buildings and no sign of that promised hive of sport after a nation was inspired.

Now the cameras are gone and the athletes have left the village, what is left for the people of the country that invested so much. It saddens me to say it, but it seems nothing but heartache.

Credit has to go to the citizens of Brazil. In the build up to the Games, the country was struggling (and still is) with a crippling recession. Government money was being piled in to a games which ultimately wouldn't benefit them. It's hard to imagine the anger, frustration and I guess disappointment it must have created. To see vital funds that could have been spent on creating jobs, medical care or supporting the residents of the country get back on their feet, being pumped in to facilities that would never be used again.

The Brazilian people had every right to wave their banners and make their anger heard during the Games, but they didn't. Yes there were small protests, but on the whole Brazil welcomed the fans, supported the athletes and embraced the Olympics and Paralympics.

Six months on, the Olympic Park lay abandoned, the running track unused and Rio 2016 seems a distant, fading and crumbling memory. Looking at those sad images, it got me thinking about London 2012. What about our legacy?

Well luckily the UK wasn't left in a crippling financial crisis from hosting the greatest show on earth, but there were questions. What about all these venues and facilities? Would they be used? and Who foots the bill for redeveloping the park? (A discussion still very much on going with the London Stadium) Questions quite rightly all in need of answering.

I guess first of all how do we define legacy? Is it about participation? Is it about the venues? or maybe its about the bigger picture, how does the nation fair after? There was clearly a legacy plan after London 2012, where as for Rio's Organising Committee, it seems for them it was just about just making sure the games actually happened what ever the cost.

So to London ...

Venues
Firstly lets look at the venues in Stratford. Five years later, the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is a hive of sporting activity on a daily basis, from Tennis to Swimming, those venues built for our summer Olympiad are certainly inspiring the next generation. An entire area of London has been regenerated, a new community formed and new homes for hundreds of thousands of people. I would say that's a major achievement and the first box ticked.

Participation
Participation is a word we hear a lot, there always seems to be a survey floating around, one week figures being up and the next down. Headlines and articles on how many people have joined a club or tried a new sport. People wanting to get involved at a local level is the key measure. With such a saturated sporting schedule, there is little room for every sport to have its place on TV and in the media. So it doesn't take long for you to forget those summer achievements, and the sparkle to have faded. It may seem that the legacy isn't there, but when you head to a local sports centre you see a whole host of actives on offer. Full classes and people getting involved from judo to badminton, athletics to cycling, proving that the legacy is there, even if it is slightly out of sight.

Future Games?
Futures Games is something we cant yet judge Brazil on, how will they fair in the next time around? Will Team Brazil get a record medal haul? Is that where we will see the legacy?

It's fair to say that Rio 2016 was a huge success for Team GB, one games on and medal records were broken for our Olympians and Paralympian's. A whole host of new sporting stars flooded our timelines and our office conversations. I just hope there maybe some light for Brazil in 2020 maybe just maybe there will be a glimmer of that legacy.

Its fair to say even looking at it on a surface level like this, the London Organising Committee got it right, in stark contrast to Brazil. Its easy to point fingers of blame, should they have been awarded the games in the first place? Should it have been moved when the economic climate changed? Lots of questions, but who knows where the answers should, could and would come from?

After being in Rio for the Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games, its sad to see the pictures of these abandoned venues, those memories of glory and happy times become slightly tainted. I hate to say it, but you could see it coming, the panic in the build up, the unfinished venues, the poor crowds and the final cuts and changes - just to get the games on was an achievement.

Lets just hope Rio 2016 is a final lesson to us all. Yes we want to spread sporting competitions across the globe, and yes we want every nation to have chance to host them. For every fan to get access to their heroes and to say I was there, but just like in business lets not push nations to the brink to make it happen. We don't have to add another countries name to the long list with abandoned venues after a major sporting competition. Its not fair to its people to leave a country with a bitter after taste and no legacy.

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