The cost of hosting the 2012 Games of the XXX Olympiad in London has been estimated to be over £8 billion (UK) pounds. Part of the justification for spending this amount and bidding to host the games, comes from the belief that the event will leave a legacy in the UK. The theme of the games, ‘Inspire a generation’, reflected this desire to promote participation in sport in the run-up to, during and after the event.
However the evidence that sporting events will lead to increased uptake of physical activity at a population level is weak.
A previous systematic review of literature published between 1978 and 2008 found insufficient evidence to support or refute any health or socioeconomic impacts from major multisport events. We conducted an ‘overview of systematic reviews’, to examine if there is an increased participation in physical or sporting activities following an Olympic or Paralympic games.
We found a paucity of evidence to support the notion that hosting an Olympic games leads to an increased participation in physical or sporting activities for host countries. We also found little evidence to suggest other health benefits. We conclude that the true success of these and future games should be evaluated by high-quality, evidence-based studies that have been commissioned before, during and following the completion of the event.
The article has been downloaded over 6000 times from the BMJ open website. In addition the article has already been cited in research pertaining to the impact of the other sporting events as well as led to questions in Brazil and how the country will generate any legacy from the 2016 games as hosts.
Can the London 2012 Olympics ‘inspire a generation’ to do more physical or sporting activities? An overview of systematic reviews.
Mahtani KR1, Protheroe J, Slight SP, Demarzo MM, Blakeman T, Barton CA, Brijnath B, Roberts N.
BMJ Open. 2013 Jan 7;3(1). pii: e002058. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2012-002058.
[The Olympic legacy for Brazil: is it a public health issue?].
[Article in Portuguese]
Demarzo MM, Mahtani KR, Slight SP, Barton C, Blakeman T, Protheroe J.
Cad Saude Publica. 2014 Jan;30(1):8-10.