Editorial: A magical summer

Were the £9bn Games worth it? Of course, for a Britain that is a better, happier country

Share

"Legacy" must have been one of the most overused words in the Olympic and Paralympic lexicon, and it often had an element of sales patter about it. Indeed, many of the claims made for the Games during the bidding and the seven-year preparation were dubious. The cost estimates in the original bid were a fraction of the eventual bill. The regeneration of east London is welcome, but there are parts of the country that need it more. And most of the claims of a boost to British business from the six weeks of the events themselves were a mirage.

Yet now, as the glorious spectacle draws to a close, we can begin to appreciate the less tangible lasting benefits of the Games. Was it worth £9bn of the British people's money? Well, how can you put a price on the national pride and confidence in staging such a huge global event so successfully? How can you quantify the reputational gain for brand Britannia in running such a vast logistical operation so smoothly? None of the fears in which some Britons luxuriated before the Games was realised. There were no queues at Heathrow, no unfinished venues and, after one busload of US athletes got lost 11 days before the start, no crises of people failing to get where they were supposed to be. The private security fell well short, and yet the Army stepped in and the worst did not happen.

This newspaper supported the Olympics and Paralympics right from the off. We knew that the nation would enjoy the festival of sporting excellence once it started, and we were excited by the prospect of improving attitudes towards disability. We were, we hope, properly sceptical about some of the extravagant claims for the legacy, especially the fantasy that the Games would inspire a generation of young people to renounce obesity; and we were critical of some of the heavy-handed rules intended to protect the sponsors (which in practice risked damaging their reputations). But The Independent on Sunday never doubted that the Games would be great once they got going.

Even so, it was not until the Games were under way that the unquantifiable enrichment of our national life became apparent. For any of the millions of people who went to events, it was an uplifting, once-in-a-lifetime experience, one shared by millions more on television. But it was the Paralympics, on which we look back in a special i on Sunday supplement today, that probably produced the most unexpected and most important long-term change. Despite a certain "aren't they brave?" condescension at the start, there was nothing patronising about the enthusiasm of the crowds watching great competitive sport.

That millions of children have watched people with cerebral palsy or without arms or legs doing amazing things was a huge gain for the visibility of people with disabilities – a giant leap forward since Cerrie Burnell took the first small step by presenting CBeebies in 2009.

Worth it? Of course it was, for a Britain that is a better, happier country, more at ease with itself even in tough economic times. The only shame is that it had to come to an end, as Katy Guest laments today.

But never mind. The joys of autumn, the loveliest season, are ahead of us and a new series of Homeland is coming soon. We must take our pleasures where we can.

Were the games worth it? Let us know below

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales & Customer Service Executives - Outbound & Inbound

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Recruitment Genius: National Account Manager / Key Account Sales

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Consultant

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...

Day In a Page

Were the games worth it?

Read Next
 

Letter from the Political Editor: Mr. Cameron is beginning to earn small victories in Europe

Andrew Grice
Pakistani volunteers carry a student injured in the shootout at a school under attack by Taliban gunmen, at a local hospital in Peshawar  

The Only Way is Ethics: The paper’s readers and users of our website want different things

Will Gore
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'