Olympic Games 2012: Legacy
Lord Moynihan (Conservative)
My Lords, I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Mawson, on securing today's debate. Let me start by declaring my interests. I am chairman of the British Olympic Association; a member of the London Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games and its audit committee; and a member of the Olympic Board, which provides oversight of the London 2012 project, the composition of which also includes my noble friend Lord Coe, the Mayor of London and the Olympics Minister.
The British Olympic Association's role is to prepare select, manage and lead Britain's finest athletes at the summer, winter and youth Olympic Games. In Great Britain and Northern Ireland the BOA is responsible for the development and protection of the Olympic movement, whose vision is to contribute to building a peaceful and better world by educating youth through sport. However, as the host nation, our role goes further to reflect the International Olympic Committee charter. We believe that as important as our success in the 2012 Games is the sports legacy and inspiration which the Games has the ability to deliver to everyone, able bodied and disabled, the length and breadth of our nation.
To date, the focus, as noble Lords have mentioned, has been on the regeneration of the East End of London and the construction of the Olympic park. Now I believe the attention of the nation, the Government, the national governing bodies of sport, Parliament, the Central Council of Physical Recreation and local communities needs to turn to the Olympics sport legacy, which needs to be costed, with clearly defined time lines on policy objectives, accountable, transparent, openly discussed and deliverable. For us in the British Olympic Association the starting point was Gordon Brown's Olympic manifesto as the then Chancellor of the Exchequer. On
"My vision for increasing young people's participation in sport by 2012".
Among others, the article made the following commitments: to,
"make the build-up to the 2012 Olympics the centrepiece of a national campaign on sport and fitness";
"restore school sport to its proper place ... with a wider range of sports and exercises that play to all talents";
"every school should offer four hours of school sport per week by 2010",
and, in addition to those four hours spent within the curriculum time, that every school should,
"offer after-school sport and links with a range of local sports clubs";
"every school should have access to playing fields and better sports facilities";
"every talented young sports star should have extra support to help them train and develop";
and that a target should be set of,
"up to 1 million men and women and young people attracted to volunteer in our schools and communities".
He concluded by saying that this was,
"a great ambition for 2012—a nation fitter in health and stronger in civic spirit".
In November of last year—by now of course as Prime Minister—he went even further by announcing that,
"the Government has issued a challenge to sport. We want two million more active people by 2012".
The time has now arrived for all of us, from Ministers and the Olympic Board, down to local sports clubs, to rise to that challenge. We at the BOA, who also raise money from the private sector—as my noble friend has just mentioned, we have been totally independent for more than 100 years—have been fully and publicly supportive of every single one of the now Prime Minister's commitments.
In our role as a host nation of the NOC we take seriously our duty to ensure that the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games leave a fitting sports legacy in this country. We recognise that the Games provide an opportunity to change the culture of health and fitness in the United Kingdom and a real chance to meet the targets set by the Prime Minister. We also recognise that the proposed Olympic sporting legacy was fundamental to London's successful bid to the International Olympic Committee to host the Games. No doubt everyone in this House joins me in hoping that every promise made in 2005 is delivered upon by 2012 and that we all have regular opportunities to monitor those commitments.
I am confident that with an outstanding sports Minister in Gerry Sutcliffe, who is totally committed to a lasting legacy for sport, these objectives can be achieved, but they will neither come cheap nor be attainable without fundamental reforms to the sports policy the Prime Minister has inherited, which has struggled to deliver the commitments for an Olympic sports legacy of the type he has outlined. To that end, a number of reviews are currently ongoing regarding the legacy of London 2012. The Government's legacy action plan is nearing completion. Additionally, Sport England will soon be publishing its own Olympic sports legacy report, and the mayor's plans for London in that context are due to be outlined presently. In the Olympic Board's London 2012 sustainability plan, to which my noble friend has referred, it has been mandated that the British Olympic Association will be consulting with sport and the general public for their views on whether the desired legacy outcomes are being addressed. It is our anticipation that that work will begin later this year.
Aside from all those reviews, the news in late November last year that the first concrete financial commitment on the subject of sporting legacy had been issued by the Government was very welcome in the context of the programme to deliver cultural and sporting activities across the UK. However, key to the Olympic sports legacy, which must touch Olympic and non-Olympic sports alike, is the need to improve sports facilities across the country. A comprehensive Olympic sports legacy needs to address all sports facilities and to address participation, the development of excellence and new systems that ensure that every child in this country has their talent identified and developed to the full.
Expectations have understandably been raised and hope has abounded that community facilities will be reinvigorated, local clubs will be assisted and our children will be offered much, much more. I still think these aims can be achieved and that the Prime Minister's Olympic manifesto commitments can be honoured, but only if action is taken now—decisive action on an all-party basis. The Games and the Olympic movement give us an opportunity to deliver real benefit to all young people, practical value in terms of sport and recreation about which one day I hope our children will reflect, "Our parents never had the chances we have today". That must be our goal for London's Olympic sports legacy.