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Friday, March 25, 2011

London Olympics 2012: More Than Just Games

By Rachel Lomot

The world looks forward to the Olympic games.  It is a time when people of various countries that would otherwise never gather together, unite. With new benefits for various communities and sustainable construction, London is creating benefits that will be felt across the globe long after the games. The next Olympic Games are being held in the summer of 2012.  Preparation for the competition is an immense amount of stress and effort for the hosting country.  However, London has taken this opportunity and made the best of it. 

The London 2012 sustainability plan created the organization “Towards a One Planet 2012.” With the help of many volunteers the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) is focusing on five elements: climate change, waste, biodiversity, inclusion, and healthy living.  Lord Coe, the chair of LOCOG states to BBC News, “London 2012 will set new standards of sustainability.”

What this means is that London is minimizing every harmful aspect of preparing for the games.  This includes minimizing the greenhouse gas emissions, waste at every stage, waste to the landfills, and impacts on wildlife and habitats.

The Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) is responsible for developing and building the new structures for the games.  Shaun McCarthy, Chair of the Commission for a sustainable London 2012, is happy with how things are going, “There is no doubt that the ODA is leading the way in construction.   Their standards for energy efficiency, waste, recycled materials and employment are significantly ahead.”

To do this, the ODA is reusing materials from the demolition that cleared Olympic Park.  In fact, 97.7% of the demolished materials were reused.  For the structures that are temporary, the materials are designed to be easily recycled.  Each building created has at least 30% recycled materials and also 20% of waste that comes from the games will be crushed onsite and reused.

However, London is not only focused on minimizing.  This project is also meant to enhance the wildlife environments after the games by building new parks and planting across the country.

One volunteer, speaking of their goal of healthy living, exclaims “by promoting the Olympics we are inspiring people across the country to take up sport and develop active, healthy and sustainable lifestyles.”

In the Second Report of Session, an annual paper written on how the preparation stands, the overall goals are announced.  London 2012 will have a “visionary emphasis on the games’ potential legacy of a lasting increase in participation in sport by all sectors of the community – especially children.”

Local schools are not only encouraged to find a love of sports and healthy living, but also encouraged to participate in preparing for the Olympics.  Dozens on local residents and schools volunteer to plant trees along the Olympic parkway, which creates a pleasant atmosphere for both people and wildlife.  Habitats are not being destroyed in this process like most cases, but built.

All the buildings created will go to further use than just housing the athletes.  After the games the athletic housing will turn into homes for teachers and nurses.  Canals and waterways will be opened, transportation improvements will be made, and new job opportunities will be created.

London 2012 is not only about the local communities.  Schools in countries like India, Bangladesh, Azerbaijan, Brazil, Zambia, and Palau are seeing change.  The organization International Inspiration was founded to amplify the beneficial changes coming from London 2012.  Sir Keith Millis, the LOCOG Deputy Chairman, is amazed by the impact. 

On February 22nd 2011, he described the project: “We wanted to make sure the London 2012 Games had a huge impact on children and young people around the world.”  Due to the organization, young people who otherwise are not permitted to participate in sports can.

Female sport teams have been developed in countries like Bangeldesh, which usually would not allow girls to participate.  A girl named Sumya reports, “Sport has given me a new identity in my community. People respect me. I feel like I have a voice now.”

Around the world, changes are happening due to one foundation.  Millis desires for the world “to be inspired” because of this.  London 2012 is committed to leaving a lasting legacy and becoming more than just the next Olympics.