The London 2012 Summer Olympics came to a spectacular close yesterday and I am glad that these games are spaced out between a few years because following the Olympics for these past two weeks has gotten to be a little exhausting. But before all my fervor for the Olympics disappears, I wanted to talk a little more about some of the lasting impressions of these games and the legacy that it leaves for the United Kingdom and the world.
- Sports Funding: Great Britain had its most successful Olympics since the 1908 London games where it won a total of 146 medals. This has spurred British politicians to call for larger funding for athletes within the country to continue its win streak in Rio. David Cameron, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, has already said that 125 million pounds (or close to 196 million American dollars) would be used each year until 2020 to help develop British athletes. Many citizens though are concerned that this is a large amount of money that should be used to serve other purposes. Though the Olympics played a big part in London culture for the past few years, people differ on how they hope the aftermath of these games will look.
- Making Their Debut: There were a lot of firsts at the London Olympics. Women’s boxing was introduced, finally giving each sport both male and female competitors. Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Brunei finally had women as part of their Olympic delegations. The United States saw more female athletes win gold medals than men. Besides these great achievements for women, a few individual countries were celebrating firsts of their own by finally medalling at the Olympics. Athletes from Bahrain, Botswana, Cyprus, Gabon, Grenada, Guatemala, and Montenegro officially won their first medal for their respective country, coming home celebrated as heroes.
- Preparing for the Future: The next few years will be crucial for Russia and Brazil as they prepare for the next two Olympic games. Both hope to be able to show the world that they have entered a new stage in their country’s development. The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi will be the first time Russia has hosted the Olympics since the fall of the Soviet Union, while the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio will be the first time the games will be hosted in South America. Both countries want to show how successful they are today through the production of these mega-events. Not everything is positive though. In Rio, activists are criticizing officials for relocating many households to develop venues and a new subway service for the games. With over 6 million people living in the city, security issues are also a concern that the IOC hopes Rio can address before 2016.
Whenever countries come together like this, it’s interesting to see what happens before, during, and after the event. Years of planning go to two weeks of sports, ideally creating a legacy that lasts a lifetime. The theme of the London games was “Inspire a Generation”, but I think it did more than that. It inspired a world of change.