Matt’s View: Action, not words, needed if we are to have London 2012 legacy

Olympic Stadium at night. Picture courtesy of London 2012

Olympic Stadium at night. Picture courtesy of London 2012 - Credit: Picture courtesy of London 2012

I have to confess that last year it took me a while to get into the Olympic spirit.

The problem with the London games was that none of the sports involved held great appeal to me – running, throwing, shooting et al just don’t get my pulse racing.

By the end I was a convert to the cause of Jessica Ennis, Mo Farah, and the rest, but once the games ended I was happy enough that the focus could return to interesting sports such as football or cricket.

Other people aren’t quite so keen to consign London 2012 to the history books, and indeed there’s been much talk this week about the Games’ legacy.

A new report has discovered that, shock horror, the Olympic stadium is not being used as well as it could be.

The House of Lords Committee on Games Legacy said, in a report released this week, that the £429m stadium was a “national asset that should be used to the full”.

The committee added that it remained “unconvinced” that present arrangements would deliver an “effective and robust” legacy.

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Talk of legacy always makes me laugh a little bit.

People seem to think that hosting a major event will provide a catalyst for change in sport, but in my experience this is rarely the case. The event organisers and sponsors descend on the host location like a pack of locusts, suck it dry, then depart, taking all the benefits with them and heading for their next target.

What’s left behind? A stadium which is being given to a football team, West Ham United, at a knock-down price. Now I love football, but should a club that participates in the richest, most bloated, sporting league in the world, the Barclays Premier League, be the chief beneficiary of the Games? It’s absolutely scandalous that no-one could come up with a more imaginative use for the venue which gave us all those iconic moments last year.

Meanwhile the government will continue to not put any money into sport, hoping that the intangible Games legacy will magically churn out the next generation of athletes.

Unless there is some serious investment in grassroots sport, both in terms of money to support athletes and better facilities for them to train and play at, then the Games legacy will be nothing more than a meaningless soundbite.