Premature Speculation? – Stories of Claims of Legacy Success Before the London 2012 Games Began.

In March 2012, four months before the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games began, the UK government published Beyond 2012: The London 2012 Legacy Story.  Introducing this document, the Prime Minister, David Cameron, claimed that ‘the idea of legacy was built into the DNA of London 2012’, and presented Beyond 2012 as ‘the story of the first ever Legacy Games, and of the many lives being transformed by it’.

However, although legacy priorities are listed in Beyond 2012, there is little other than single short paragraphs to explain how priorities will be achieved.  Also, few priorities are directly measurable, which means the extent to which they have been delivered can be the subject of political interpretation and debate rather than being determined by a clear assessment of whether a targeted policy outcome has been achieved (see #What2012Legacy? How can we assess the success of London 2012 legacy strategy?).  This suggests a greater concern with demonstrating a London 2012 legacy, rather than actually delivering it! (see Delivering or Demonstrating a London 2012 Sporting Legacy?)

One effect of failing to provide measurable outputs and outcomes for legacy priorities is that it becomes easier to claim success by measuring objectives and inputs, and this is one of the features of Beyond 2012, in which the ‘story of the first ever Legacy Games’ is presented as a retrospective with objectives and future investments and inputs presented as legacy successes already achieved. However, there is virtually no data to show what outputs and outcomes have or will be delivered from the objectives and inputs claimed as legacy successes, and there is variable evidence of programmes that have been made distinctive by their association with the Games.  It appears that Beyond 2012 came to early in the London 2012 legacy timeline – a case of premature speculation?

This MiniBlog is a short additional contribution to a series of blogs on exploring what legacies have been leveraged from the London 2012 Games. Follow #What2012Legacy for this series of blogs, coming up in the next few days and weeks.