Exclusive interview with Hugh Robertson on Olympics legacy: Minister ‘delighted’– but facilities are still closing

‘No other host nation has ever increased the number of people participating’

Legacy was the Olympic buzzword that has become a dirty word, the dark cloud of pervading cynicism hovering behind the summer sun now beaming over the pending anniversary celebrations. Is there actually a legacy, and if so what exactly is it?

Many have serious doubts, myself included, but the sports minister, Hugh Robertson, certainly hasn’t. “People are naturally interested in what may be going wrong rather than what is going right,” he argues. “But if you told me a year ago we would be where we are now I would have been surprised and delighted.

“No other nation has ever increased the money for Olympic and Paralympics after a home Games. No other home nation has ever increased the number of people participating. I know there was a fall-off in the last figures but even allowing for that we still have an extra 1.4 million playing sport.

“In terms of legacy, at the beginning of the year we had two key things that needed sorting – the future of the Olympic stadium and Olympic Park [where all eight permanent venues have tenancies] and school sport. Both are now in a much better place.

“There have never been more major sports events coming to this country. And in the teeth of the recession we have managed to find another £150 million investment in school sport. It is an extraordinarily compelling package.”

Of course, it is Robertson’s job to push the Government line, and while I agree with much of what he and Lord Coe claim in terms of the benefit to national psyche – better than any previous host city – my concern is that the much-trumpeted Olympic feelgood factor has not filtered down beyond elite sport anything like as much as it is claimed.

While we have a high-performance system that is now among the best in the world, Baroness Sue Campbell, the former chair of UK Sport, which distributes Government and Lottery money to elite athletes, suggests that in other areas – such as grass-roots sport, volunteering and women’s participation in exercise – Britain has not secured the legacy it could, and she is right.

Swimming pools and playing fields are still closing, and how embarrassing was it that Sheffield’s Don Valley, Britain’s second largest athletics arena and alma mater of one of Team GB’s 2012 icons, Jessica Ennis, brought in the bulldozers almost before the Olympic flame had been extinguished.

Olympic euphoria certainly has not bequeathed goodwill to a host of local councils who, often under the guise of Government cuts, make shameful decisions harmful to participation sport.

Like the burghers of Merton, south London, where the sale of a public sports hall to a private school left Olympic medallist Ray Stevens without a home for his popular judo club which regularly attracts disabled or disadvantaged kids.

So far Olympics Legacy is a bit of a curate’s egg, good in parts. But we certainly haven’t cracked it yet.

News
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
News
Down-to-earth: Winstone isn't one for considering his 'legacy'
people
News
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower