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  • Back in the early 2000s, much of what you see behind me

  • here in the east end of London was an urban wasteland.

  • Then in 2005, a transformation began.

  • The games of the thirtieth Olympiad in 2012 are awarded to the city of London.

  • The focus of London's successful bid for the 2012 Olympic games was legacy

  • through the sustainability and adaptability of stadium and venue architecture.

  • So, what lessons can be learnt  from this and past Olympicsand what can we expect from Tokyo 2020?

  • Hi Peter, how are you?

  • Good, thank you. Welcome to Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

  • Looks pretty impressive, doesn't it?

  • It does. Let me show you around.

  • Cool.

  • In 2012, this 560-acre park hosted the Olympic and Paralympic games.

  • They were deemed a great success, but many argue that their legacy has been even more impressive.

  • So here we are in the heart of the park.

  • Over there is the London Aquatics Centre, our amazing pool,

  • the ArcelorMittal Orbit and the London Stadium just behind us.

  • But from here, we also get to see the Copper Box Arena up in the north,

  • and we've got the VeloPark, and right in the north of the park,

  • the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre.

  • All of these legacy venues, well used for both playing sport

  • but also big international sporting competitions after the games.

  • Before this area of east London, known as Stratford, became home to the games,

  • it was London's industrial heartland for more than a century.

  • However, as the London docks and factories shuttered in the 1960s, it left the neighbourhood at a loss.

  • So, if we went back to 2005, when we won the bid the area was completely different.

  • There was some factories, there was some homes,

  • but there was also a lot of areas that you just didn't want to go to.

  • There were rail heads, there were huge pylons, electricity pylons that straddled the site.

  • Famously tons and tons of earth had to be cleaned here on site because of the diesel and the acid

  • that had been processed in the various factories. So all of that was cleansed and then reset.

  • While the ground was being prepared for the development of the Olympic site,

  • discussions about its legacy and what would happen to the park after the games were happening in tandem.

  • How important was legacy as part of the successful London 2012 Olympic bid?

  • Well, I think there was an overarching focus on legacy

  • to ensure that apart from a glorious week or two in 2012

  • these venues would deliver for local communities,

  • for the region, for the nation for twenty to thirty years.

  • Shaun Dawson is the chief executive of Lee Valley Regional Park Authority,

  • a government appointed body set up to regenerate 10,000 acres of regional park

  • while also providing sport venues and open spaces

  • some of which traverses  Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

  • Before the bid, we had planned for a velo park

  • for a white-water centre, so we had those plans already.

  • And of course, what the games did was deliver bigger and better venues

  • than we could have delivered without the games and what the games benefitted from that

  • was having a readymade legacy client in place, to shape the legacy for those venues.

  • Today, Lee Valley operates three venues that were used at the Olympics,

  • two of which are found in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park,

  • the Hockey and Tennis Centre and the Velodrome.

  • The rest of the sporting complex, including the Aquatics Centre,

  • the Copper Box Arena and the London Stadium are all run

  • by an organization whose purpose really began on the day that the games finished.

  • What is the London Legacy Development Corporation?

  • It's quite a mouthful, isn't it?

  • You should have come up with a shorter name.

  • Yeah.

  • We were formed in 2012, and the idea is that the legacy corporation really takes the spirit

  • of the Paralympic and Olympic games in 2012 and uses the opportunity of those games

  • to benefit local people. That means bringing the venues back

  • into use for local people and bringing new inward investment

  • into the area including jobs and opportunities generally.

  • The motivation to ensure that the legacy of the London Olympics will be sustained

  • for future generations was derived from the mistakes of past Olympics.

  • Issues such as the ecological impact and displacement of locals plagued previous editions,

  • while abandoned venues reclaimed by nature were common sights.

  • I think it was desperately sad to look at venues in other Olympic cities that aren't delivering a legacy.

  • They had their week of glory during the games but haven't delivered in the long-term

  • and that public investment hasn't delivered for those communities,

  • and it is an important lesson to learn that you can get it wrong.

  • If you don't design these venues correctly, with the number of audiences that we're here

  • to reach out to in mind, well then this would have been a white elephant as well.

  • To ensure that the London Olympics would not make the same mistake,

  • plans were in place from the start so that the Olympic Park could adapt from a space

  • designed to host thousands of spectators a day to a park for the local community,

  • and venues that could fulfil a variety of needs.

  • So the depths can be changed, the booms can come in and out

  • so we get shorter lengths and all of that is there right from the start,

  • it just wasn't needed for  the games.

  • During the London Olympics, the Aquatic Centre was fitted

  • with spectator wings on the side of the building,

  • increasing its capacity from nearly 3,000 to more than 17,000.

  • Once the games were over, the wings were removed

  • so the venue could become a more intimate space for general public use,

  • though it can still scale up by another 1,000 seats to host elite competitions.

  • So this is one of those areas of the park that if you were here ten years ago,

  • it would have looked completely different. Behind you would have been a bridge,

  • taking you over the stadium. But don't step back now.

  • There's a climbing wall, which everyone enjoys coming up.

  • Over here, there's the children's playground, a brand new children's playground

  • but at games time this was tarmacked. This was MacDonald's, toilets, souvenir shops.

  • So, all you can see, this greenery you can see wasn't here?

  • None of the greenery here. All of this was planted,

  • and when we reopened the park, or opened the park, in 2014,

  • it was a new garden for people to come and enjoy.

  • So, where we're standing now, this was a huge bridge at the games,

  • so you probably didn't even know there was a canal underneath it,

  • but we peeled back some of  the layers of the bridge

  • and created this rather spectacular reflective effect.

  • The lock behind you has just been restored in the last few years

  • so that is now a functioning lock for the canal.

  • Sorry, there was a bridge over the top of this?

  • Yes, yeah.

  • The focus on the future meant that for every £1 spent building the Olympic Park,

  • a quarter was invested solely for the Games, while the remaining 75p

  • was earmarked for the legacy of the games. In the years since,

  • a total of 30 million people have visited Queen Elizabeth Park.

  • While many of the venues here are used regularly, recent reports suggest

  • a successful Olympic legacy in London is threatened by a serious shortfall in revenue.

  • A report published in 2021 suggested that the general financial outlook of the park

  • is a 'ticking timebomb.'  In 2020, trading revenue across the park fell by 30%

  • due to the restrictions caused by the pandemic. However, the cancellation of showpiece events

  • because of the lockdown also helped save the city's taxpayers £7.4 million

  • largely due to the high costs of running events at the London Stadium.

  • I came here to the London Stadium, as it's now known, back in 2012

  • and watched some incredible sporting moments that I'll never forget.

  • But that venue is almost unrecognizable to the one you see today,

  • and the transformation into somewhere which hosts football matches has not been an easy one.

  • There was a determination to get the stadium into use,

  • but some disagreement in the run up to the Games actually about what that end use should be.

  • We all knew that to make the stadium sustainable and have longevity,

  • it needed a real anchor tenant to make that work

  • and the most obvious anchor tenant was always going to be a football club.

  • But that meant serious investment in transforming 

  • the venue into something  that could work for football,

  • as well as other facilities and other events and so on.

  • Now when you look around the world, there are very, very few Olympic stadiums

  • that have survived as well as we hope this one will.

  • There's a recent report that highlighted some financial pressures

  • that the London Legacy Development Corporation have had.

  • How difficult is it to ensure these places are open to the community but also make money?

  • I think the stadium is an example of a venue that delivers so much more than the venue itself,

  • in terms of local economy, in terms of what it delivers for sport,

  • for London in its wider sense and if it does have financial challenges

  • and all venues do, it's just different types of challenges really.

  • At the end of the day, well, I think it's how that Olympic stadium is the centerpiece

  • of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and I think we all benefit from that.

  • People tend to, for various reasons, whether political or otherwise, focus on the negative news

  • but actually when you look  at this place in the round

  • and see the positivity that's here, the extra jobs that have been created,

  • the new buildings that are coming online just behind us here,

  • you can see the benefits more clearly.

  • I don't know whether you've been asked by the Tokyo delegates about what you've been doing here

  • and how you've grown the legacy and ensure that it lasts.

  • Are there any lessons that you've learnt that you would pass on?

  • If you're thinking of putting a bid together, you must be thinking about the legacy right then

  • and the impression you're going to make for local people, that's really important.

  • There's not much point actually, if the Games are about to be held

  • and you're turning up and asking for advice then because you're then starting from scratch

  • and you're running to catch up, so very important to think about it early.

  • The basic ingredients, I think, are there for them.

  • I think it comes down to who's going to own and manage these venues.

  • If some venues do carry a subsidy, how's it going to be funded?

  • Is it the Tokyo taxpayer? Is it the national taxpayer?

  • It is those levels of detail, with the right skills to ensure,

  • almost a day after the games or whenever you can, those venues open and they're public venues.

  • They've spent a lot of time upgrading existing venues like we did here,

  • some new venues of course as well. There's been a lot of exchange

  • and two-way traffic to try and make sure they get it right,

  • and in the case of Tokyo, I think they will.

  • To host an Olympics is a once in a lifetime opportunity but ensuring that the legacy of a games

  • is a strong and lasting one is difficult. While lessons have clearly been learnt,

  • it's still a challenge that host cities wrestle with and will continue to do so.

  • Hi guys, thanks for watching our video. Please subscribe to the channel

  • but before you do that we'd love to know your thoughts on any other

  • sporting venues that have hosted big events that you think have done it really well

  • or conversely have done it really badly. Comment below the video to let us know

  • and we'll see you next time.

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