Tom Degun: London 2012 legacy in action
Thursday, 31 January 2013
By definition, the word legacy is "something left or handed down by a predecessor" and in terms of London 2012, the UK wants to know exactly what this 'something' is.
This week, Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron and Mayor of London Boris Johnson appeared at pains to try and define this.
"As we trudged through the snow on a cold, dark January morning, last summer's Olympic and Paralympic Games may have felt a bit of a distant memory in recent weeks," said the pair in a joint letter that appeared in London's Evening Standard.
"But six months on from that unforgettable Opening Ceremony, we are both as committed as ever to making the most of the Games. And together with Seb Coe (the London 2012 chairman and Prime Minister's legacy ambassador) we are determined to generate a momentum that will ensure the greatest Games ever deliver a legacy that lasts a lifetime."
The letter goes on to detail how Britain will not make the mistakes of the past, as they claim other Olympic and Paralympic host cities have done, and they outline decisive action they are taking, such as ensuring the reopening of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford this year, as an example of their commitment.
But perhaps the key point the Prime Minister and the Mayor of London touch on is the recently announced landmark deal that sees London 2012 suppliers eligible to promote their Olympic and Paralympic involvement for the first time ever following a Games.
Until now companies have been banned, under the terms of the contracts they have signed, from associating themselves with the Olympics but this deal will allow the tens of thousands of companies that worked on London 2012 in various ways to actively promote their work on the Games.
"Whereas in previous Games, businesses which supplied goods and services have not been allowed to talk publicly about their involvement, we have worked hard - together with the British Olympic Association (BOA) - to persuade the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to create a new scheme that will enable businesses to promote their part in the success of the Games," say Cameron and Johnson.
"As a result, tens of thousands of British businesses that did such fantastic work will now at long last get the benefits of the public recognition they deserve - helping us towards our goal of achieving £13 billion ($21 billion/€16 billion) of benefits for British business as a result of the Games."
This deal certainly seemed to be a hot topic of conversation at the UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) Global Sports Opportunities Conference in London I attended this week where the message was simple: London 2012 has given the world confidence that Britain can deliver.
UKTI itself is the UK Government department working with British based businesses to ensure their success in international markets and encourage the best overseas companies to look to the UK as their global partner of choice.
Following London 2012, it is no surprise that UK businesses are looking to get involved in Brazil, where the 2014 FIFA World Cup and Rio 2016 Games will be, Russia, where the Sochi 2014 Winter Games and 2014 FIFA World Cup are to be staged, and Qatar, where the 2022 FIFA World Cup is likely to be just one of several major sporting events in the country in the coming decade.
Making one of the key addresses at the conference was Trade and Investment Minister Lord Green, who outlined how the success of London 2012 has put British companies in the box seat to win a share of the lucrative global sporting events business sector which is reckoned to be worth £92 billion ($1.5 billion/€1.1 billion) by 2015.
"The London 2012 Games showed the world what Britain can do - and it showed Britain at its best," said Lord Green.
"British businesses have seen their work showcased around the world. Admiration and respect for UK knowhow, innovation, and capability to deliver major projects and events is high and the UK has to take advantage of this window of opportunity. Sporting events come around so regularly - irrespective of what happens to the global economy - which means that sport provides great opportunities for UK business. With the help of the UKTI, UK firms are already picking up business for these events and will continue to do so."
Contracts worth an estimated £1.5 billion ($2.4 billion/€1.9 billion) have already been identified flowing from the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics and Paralympics and the 2016 Rio Olympic and Paralympic Games which UK companies can, and have been, bidding on.
Experts from Brazil, Russia and Qatar took the took to the stage, explaining how they believe the UK can offer them things that no one else can following the London 2012 Games.
This all seems a far cry less than a decade ago when construction on the new Wembley Stadium was a disaster with continuous delays and Britain had to embarrassingly hand back the 2005 World Athletics Championships they were awarded by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) after then Prime Minister Tony Blair failed to deliver on his promise to build a stadium at Pickett's Lock to host it.
So perhaps while the specific legacy of London 2012 is still a work in progress, UK businesses certainly appear to be one of the biggest beneficiaries.
At the London 2012 Paralympic Closing Ceremony on September 9, Coe ended the show in style.
"Finally, there are some famous words you can find stamped on the bottom of a product," he said in his closing speech.
"Words that, when you read them, you know mean high quality, mean skill, mean creativity. We've stamped those words on the Olympic and Paralympic Games of London 2012.
"London 2012 - 'Made in Britain'."
It is now UKTI and British businesses that are reaping the benefits of this.
Tom Degun is a reporter for insidethegames. To follow him on Twitter click here.