With just one year to go before the Rio Olympics, the media has been debating whether the legacy of London 2012 is diminishing in the UK.

There are two main areas of contention, namely whether or not it’s realistic to expect Team GB to achieve a similar medal haul next time around, plus the more serious concern over the drop in participation in sport as a whole.
As regards medals, UK Sport has boldly targeted a higher haul in Rio than the 65 Olympic and 120 Paralympic medals that Britain achieved in London.  To that end, it has invested almost £350 million of public money.
There’s nothing wrong with setting ambitious targets, but a casual glance at the statistics would suggest that they are likely to be aspirational rather than realistic.  Other nations that have hosted the games in recent times have suffered a reduction in the medal haul four years later, eg:  Australia 14%, China 12% and Greece, a staggering 75%.  It is not easy to maintain the necessary level of funding over a four-year period.  Indeed, the massive drop experienced by Greece at the 2008 Olympics may well correspond with the onset of that country’s economic difficulties.
Funding is also seen as a significant factor in recent figures indicating that participation in sport has fallen in Britain since the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.  Interest in sport soared in the UK after 2012 and, at one stage, it was claimed that almost 16 million people were participating once a week.  Since then, however, the number of regular participants has fallen by 400,000.
These figures may be disappointing but are not particularly surprising.  Four years is a long time for any effect to endure, however massive the initial impact.  Firstly, the decline is not universal; Sport Wales, Sport Scotland and Sport Northern Ireland have all reported increased participation levels.  Furthermore, there are a number of sports that are bucking the overall downward trend.  It is no coincidence that these sports are the ones in which Great Britain has most recently been successful – cycling being a prime example.
This suggests that a successful games in Rio next year will be likely to provide another welcome boost for sport in the UK.  However, to achieve that, it is imperative that our competitors are given the necessary degree of funding.  Given the Government’s concerns over the health of the UK population at large, and the inspirational effect of national sporting success, financial backing should be viewed as a worthwhile investment.

There are two main areas of contention, namely whether or not it’s realistic to expect Team GB to achieve a similar medal haul next time around, plus the more serious concern over the drop in participation in sport as a whole.

As regards medals, UK Sport has boldly targeted a higher haul in Rio than the 65 Olympic and 120 Paralympic medals Britain achieved in London.  To that end, it has invested almost £350 million of public money.

There’s nothing wrong with setting ambitious targets, but a casual glance at the statistics would suggest that they are likely to be aspirational rather than realistic.  Other nations that have hosted the games in recent times have suffered a reduction in the medal haul four years later, eg:  Australia 14%, China 12% and Greece a staggering 75%.  It is not easy to maintain the necessary level of funding over a four-year period.  Indeed, the massive drop experienced by Greece at the 2008 Olympics may well correspond with the onset of that country’s economic difficulties.

Funding is also seen as a significant factor in recent figures indicating that participation in sport has fallen in Britain since the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.  Interest in sport soared in the UK after 2012 and, at one stage, it was claimed that almost 16 million people were participating once a week.  Since then, however, the number of regular participants has fallen by 400,000.

These figures may be disappointing but are not particularly surprising.  Four years is a long time for any effect to endure, however massive the initial impact.  Firstly, the decline is not universal; Sport Wales, Sport Scotland and Sport Northern Ireland have all reported increased participation levels.  Furthermore, there are a number of sports that are bucking the overall downward trend. It is no coincidence that these sports are the ones in which Great Britain has most recently been successful – cycling being a prime example.

This suggests that a successful games in Rio next year will be likely to provide another welcome boost for sport in the UK.  However, to achieve that, it is imperative that our competitors are given the necessary degree of funding.  Given the Government’s concerns over the health of the UK population at large, and the inspirational effect of national sporting success, financial backing should be viewed as a worthwhile investment.