The legacy of the 2012 London Olympics has been called into question numerous times since the winning bid was announced in 2005. However it has never been so pertinently posed as recently, as it has become apparent that Scotland will get little of the benefit the rest of the country - the southeast in particular – has been promised. It has become widely known that following the closure of the 30th Olympiad in the UK capital this August, the flagship legacy programme heralded by Games chairman Lord Coe amongst other luminaries will focus solely on England. This programme which has promised to pump £135 million into grassroots sports facilities and coaching initiatives over the next four years will greatly enhance the future generation of sports stars – but for the English only.
This news has been announced amongst widespread disbelief from those who cite the £150 million of Scottish National Lottery money that is being ploughed into the ‘greatest show on earth’ this summer. While those behind the Games legacy cite the benefits of the Games to the nation’s wellbeing and morale, those in Scotland are quick to point out that the funding for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014 is 24 times less than the windfall England is to receive as part of the programme put in place by Coe. While the legacy previously promised to Scotland was the economic boost that the two Olympic Football events held at Hampden Park there are fears that the stands will be embarrassingly empty, as tickets for the women’s group stage match between Columbia and North Korea are hardly flying off the shelves. It is also a worry that holidaymakers not wanting to attend the games will avoid the rest of the UK particularly Scotland as they look to warmer and potentially less busy climes. This lack of tourism might affect the economy at a particularly inopportune time for those north of the border. The prevailing optimists mention the hope that the Edinburgh Festival will entice the masses after the Olympic Games, but there is a thought that the Olympics will detract from the festival's charm this summer.
Despite the wealth of training resources and spectacular scenery north of the border, only two nations – Namibia and Zambia, neither of whom are quite powerhouse athletics nations – are to site training camps north of the border. SportScotland has consistently invested more than £6 million pounds in total for facilities this year and most will receive little or no use in the run up to the Games. Of the companies awarded tenders for contracts relating to the construction and running of the Games' infrastructure, only a tiny proportion have been awarded to Scots companies. This is all under the auspices of an Olympic Programme for the whole nation and millions of pounds of Scotland’s regeneration funding has been diverted to London from investment in local infrastructure. Grassroots sports clubs north of the border have also claimed the diversion of the cash has left them short of funding.
"I think the question we have all been asking is 'what legacy'?" said Graham Bell, spokesman for the Scottish Chambers of Commerce (SCC). "It will be absolutely minimal. The promise that this will benefit the whole country has not been realised. They have run away with a large proportion of our Lottery money to pay for the Games – it is a very poor show and as a share of the dividend, what we stand to gain is nothing like 10 per cent."