Will the Olympics Legacy be a Lasting One?

Posted: April 30, 2012 in current events

Athletics track Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, the Docklands area of London became one of the most rundown in the whole country. The decline of the capital’s river-borne industry had a devastating effect on unemployment levels, and the subsequent lack of investment in the region merely made the situation worse. It was a depressing part of a world-renowned international business hub, and something had to be done.
The 1980s redevelopment of the Docklands area transformed huge chunks of the vicinity into high-tech centres of cutting edge commerce, and within a decade it was hard to even imagine some of the squalor that had once existed. The stunning Canary Wharf development includes One Canada Square, once the tallest building in London, and stands as a monument to the optimism of the whole project.
In 2005, the International Olympic Committee awarded the 2012 Games to London, and a whole new period of investment and construction was set in motion. The new stadium is located in Stratford, in the east of the city and close to Docklands, and it will welcome crowds of up to 80,000 when the sporting fiesta gets under way. There are also several other venues nearby which have been specially built for the event, including the Aquatics Centre, the Velopark and the Riverbank Arena.
In the seven years since London’s bid was declared a successful one, there has been the usual debate raging over whether hosting the Olympics is a benefit or a curse. Perhaps predictably, opinions are polarized about the issue, and almost everyone seems to have strong convictions about why they’re in the right. Leaving that to one side, the most common divide seems to be about whether the investment will be a temporary cash injection for the benefit of visitors or whether it will be of long-term value to the whole area.
The organising committee has been quick to point out that a significant proportion of the money being invested is spent on lasting projects that will provide new infrastructures. They point to new homes, educational facilities, sporting amenities and transport networks as evidence of the positives. And although there are plenty of cynics that won’t be in hearty agreement, it has to be said the construction work, and the subsequent supply industries, has provided vast numbers of employment opportunities in a traditionally depressed part of the city.
On the negative side, the cost of the Olympic Games is huge, and if there aren’t as many long-term advantages to be seen afterwards there will be an enormous outcry. The previous legacies of Olympic developments have also left a bitter taste in hosting country’s mouths; the Barcelona Olympic development has been left to ruin following Spain’s financial crisis and even the Sydney Olympic facilities (dubbed one of the best Olympic Games) were built in such an isolated brownfield area (with no main transport links) that they were left largely unattended after the Olympiad had finished, tying up large sums of cash for maintenance and potential redevlopment.

Criticisms also have abounded for th etransport links; Atlanta was nagtively reviewed for it’s over-commercialism and the insufficient public transport fopr the crowds. With London barely able to cope with the daily rush hour and businesses being urged to close doors throughout the period (a vain hope in an economic crisis), it is less than clear which end of the budget column the UK will end up in as a result of the 2012 London games.


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