The vision and preparations for London 2012 have put athletes and sport at the heart of the Games, and made sports participation a high priority.
Since it won the bid to host the Games, London 2012 has worked closely with partners and stakeholders on activation programmes to promote sports participation in the run-up to, during and after the Games. For example, 14,000 schools and more than five million young people took part in the 2012 National School Sports Week sponsored by Lloyds TSB.
In addition, the London 2012 Inspire programme has officially recognised outstanding projects and events inspired by the Games, including more than 400 sports projects.
A sports education initiative has also been set up with Sport England, whereby London 2012 ticket holders receive monthly ‘The Games and beyond’ emails to provide some background on the sports they’re going to see and further information on how to get involved.
International Inspiration, the groundbreaking international sports legacy programme, exemplifies what London 2012 stands for and the legacies it is delivering. In the UK alone, it has initiated more than 900 sport-specific projects across every nation and region to develop sports participation and physical activity schemes for people of all ages.
In early 2012, the UK Government also announced a new £1 billion, five-year youth and community strategy to further broaden and develop the 2012 Games promise to inspire a generation to get involved in sport. This will involve the creation of 4,000 school-based community sports clubs with links to one or more national governing bodies of sport.
Creating a legacy for Paralympic sport
The UK public has embraced Paralympic sport like never before, promising passionate support for the athletes achieving extraordinary feats at the Paralympic Games in 2012. There was unprecedented demand for tickets for the London 2012 Paralympic Games, with 1.14 million tickets applied for during the first round of sales in September 2011.
On 8 September 2011, London’s Trafalgar Square hosted International Paralympic Day – the first time it was held outside of Germany. As well as welcoming athletes from around the world, the day saw a world record broken: 239 passes were made in a single Sitting Volleyball game, without the ball being dropped on the floor.
Putting athletes at the heart of the Games
Olympic and Paralympic athletes capture the imagination of the world and unite communities – even people with little or no interest in sport are attracted to the drama of the world’s leading athletes competing at the Games. Creating the best possible environment for the athletes to perform at their peak is at the centre of the London 2012 Games.
Early on in the project, in May 2009, London 2012 established an Athletes' Committee to replace the former Sport Advisory Group. Between them, the members of the committee have competed at 22 Olympic and nine Paralympic Games.
Led by Triple Jump gold medallist Jonathan Edwards (Chair) and Paralympic legend Baroness Grey-Thompson (Vice Chair), the Athletes' Committee looks after the interests of the athletes who will participate in the London 2012 Games, and plays a leading role in the development of services and policy on their behalf.
Every effort has been made to allow athletes to concentrate 100% on their sport at the Games. This includes the delivery of ‘gold medal standard’ accommodation in the Olympic and Paralympic Village, which will house up to 16,000 athletes and team officials during the Olympics, and 6,200 athletes and official during the Paralympics.
The fittings and furnishings in each of the 2,818 apartment were overseen by the Athletes’ Committee to ensure athletes’ comfort and convenience. Other essential Games-time areas and services in the Village include the Village Plaza (a green space where athletes can relax), a main 5,000-seat dining facility and a state-of-the-art gym.
In addition, direct transport links to central London will provide athletes with easy access to the bright lights of the city, allowing those who haven’t yet finished competition to get some much needed rest.