James Lawton: Olympics were not won on playing fields of Britain

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The Independent Online

When the usual Government statistical confections are put on one side, Alison Moore-Gwyn, director of the National Playing Fields Association, is obliged to say, "We have lost nearly 45 per cent of our stock of sports pitches [since 1992]. By any standards, this is a shameful record. Both Conservative and Labour governments have allowed a creeping disaster to overtake playing fields throughout England."

Richard Caborn, the Sports Minister, says that now more playing fields are being created or improved than being lost the tide is being turned, but overall statistics contradict him. With the Olympics in the bag, Government claims have to be examined more strenuously than ever before. Winning the Games was an extraordinary act of salesmanship and political opportunism, but it did little or nothing to still the fears of many that it was based on a degree of fraud.

Britain's provision of sports facilities for its young people remains a scandal.