Headlines: March 17th, 2009

The legacy of the 2012 Olympics and its capacity to drive improvement in the UK’s health will depend on wider initiatives and strategies than the games alone, according to a new report.

The games and the linked paralympics should be promoted as part of a series of “festival events” in order to involve as many people as possible according to a sports research unit at the Canterbury Christ Church University in Kent.

The unit analysed the potential impact of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games on physical activity, sports participation and health as part of a programme of research commissioned by the Department of Health.

The findings are expected to influence the implementation of the Government’s 2012 Legacy Action Plan. These include a call to boost the ‘demonstration effect’ of top athletes acting as role models by increasing the range and availability of sports activities.

But they also recognise that for the least active, watching sport at elite level rarely boosts participation. For this group, the festival focus with its offer of many opportunities to participate is proposed to encourage wellbeing resulting from community project involvement.

The report also calls for the robust evaluation of legacy efforts.