By Monica Sainz, D.S.M.
Special to Sports Fitness Network
While recently in London, one could walk around and still feel the Olympic momentum. The crowds were gone, the facilities were closed but still visible, and some of the banners and signs were still there. British humor was even apparent at the train line leaving the Olympic Park area, with a sign for the station to go to for Rio 2016! The Summer and Paralympics of London 2012 are still hot topics in the papers that can be picked up by the subway users.
As part of the legacy, there are a variety of diverse topics the committee has been brainstorming and planning on. One of the projects is to use the Team GB Olympians each year. These Olympians will be asked to spend a total of 5,000 days a year to go around schools to teach, mentor and encourage young students. This may encourage some to become gold medalists and will continue to grow the British spirit that was so palpable during the London 2012 Games.
Planners also have the large ambition to grow tourism within the next few years. Tourists flocked to London, spending money in restaurants and hotels during the Games. Plans are now to see an additional 40 million tourists by 2020, which would be a steady increase of 3% per year, and add £87 billion to the economy and help support 200,000 additional jobs.
Current London Mayor Boris Johnson is also putting in a bid for the 2017 Paralympic Championships, to use the facilities of London 2012’s Games. This event hosts over 1,500 disabled athletes from over one hundred countries. It is the second largest event for disabled athletes after the Paralympic Games. Some of LOCOG’s plans for the legacy of London 2012 are widespread. The motto is to “inspire a generation”. The plans are to regenerate and repurpose Olympic Park, allow developers to move in, and create new opportunities for business, residents, and future athletes. Studies are also being done on the ecological impact.
At the top of the list for the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC), headed by Hone is the future of Olympic Park. Some of the plans which have already begun around the Stadium are to destroy the Stratford Gate Bridge, which was the leading entrance to the millions of visitors this summer. Over £150 million worth of work is being done in turning Olympic village rooms into apartments. This area will be turned over to Qatari developers. As for the stadium, several options are on the table. The most likely and viable is to convert Olympic Stadium into a soccer stadium with retractable seats and a full roof. The stadium has already cost £476 million in construction. The new conversions would top an additional £160million. The most likely candidate is West Ham, and other contenders are an F1 consortium, League One’s Leyton Orient and UCB College of Football Business.
London 2012 may be long gone, but much works remains to be done. The LLCD has been planning the post-Game Olympics and are now putting finishing touches, and debating major and costly last decisions such as the Stadium. If you are strolling through London in the weeks or months to come, be sure to pick up a free paper near the subway stations and follow up on the Legacy!