The Mayor of London Boris Johnson has this morning released a list of "100 Great things about the Games." There are plenty of Olympisceptics around. There are concerns about the cost – although a key Boris achievement has been to prevent them spiralling further out of control as was happening to an appalling extent under his predecessor. Concerns about getting tickets – a dangerous issue in that it could switch the most devoted Olympienthusiasts into Olympisceptics. Also there are concerns about the extent of the legacy.
Some of the Mayor's supporters strike the odd sceptical note. For instance Andrew Gilligan writing (£) in this week's Spectator says:
Among the many inventive ways which London 2012 has devised to waste public money, Team GB Handball is my personal favourite. Three million pounds is being spent to create, from scratch, a British Olympic squad in a sport which virtually nobody in Britain has ever played. And in the Olympic Park, £44 million — enough for a new hospital wing — has gone on a 7,000-seat arena for handball, a sport whose entire British fan base could have been fitted into the nearest convenient school gym.
If no one plays handball, where do we get the players? Well that, readers, is where you come in. As the British Handball Association website this week puts it, ‘Do you have an Olympic dream? London 2012, Rio 2016, and beyond? We need you to help us to reach higher heights as we pursue our own Olympic Dream for London in 2012… Think you have what it takes? Then simply complete the form below and our coaching staff will be in touch.’ The form includes the question: ‘Played handball before? Yes/No.’ If you missed out on Olympic tickets, it is, I suppose, one way of getting in without posing as Sepp Blatter’s personal food taster.
But the range of benefits is formidable. Here are ten examples from the 100 long list:
#1 a free sport on your doorstep
Ready for 2012, we’ve made aerobics, basketball, football and more free to enjoy.FreeSport works with around 150 small sports clubs and community groups to put on free and fun sporting opportunities across London. Londoners can access at least six hours of free coaching in a range of sports and activities.
#10 a finer line to take
Ready for 2012, we've upgraded the East London Line to open up new areas of the city to Londoners. Transport improvements delivered in time for the Games have improved access to both east and south London, opening up new parts of the city to significant investment and new facilities. For example, Transport for London has extended the London Overground from Dalston Junction to West Croydon, linking 16 of London’s finest museums, among other things.
#34 a new lease of life
After 2012, there will be room for 11,000 new homes at the Olympic Park. Five new neighbourhoods will be established around the Olympic Park in the years after the Games, each with a distinct character and a mix of housing sizes, ownership and rental options, with a particular focus on family housing. These new neighbourhoods adding to the existing Athletes’ Village will provide up to 11,000 new homes. The first homes will be available in the Athletes' Village from 2013 onwards, with new family homes available in the north of the Park a few years after
#37 a pop-up pool near you
Ready for 2012, we’re touring mobile pools around town to make swimming easier. In partnership with the Variety club and MWBEx, Make a Splash is putting temporary swimming pools in the areas that need them most, teaching thousands of Londoners, young and old, to swim. So far, Make a Splash has visited eight London boroughs.
#42 a whole new ball game
Ready for 2012, we're opening up free basketball clubs for young Londoners. London School of Basketball is a community basketball programme, delivered in partnership with Nike. It aims to increase grassroots basketball and regular playing opportunities, particularly amongst young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. Up to 40 new local basketball clubs are being established, with Central Venue Leagues offering opportunities for competition and development. If you want to play ball, this is the place for you.
#50 a new job in store
Ready for 2012, there are going to be 10,000 new jobs created at Westfield Stratford City. The construction of the Stratford Retail academy will help local people access retail jobs in the new Stratford City development. Westfield estimates that phase one of the development will create the
equivalent of 10,000 permanent jobs through its retail, leisure and commercial occupiers once it opens in September 2011. Westfield aims to secure at least 2,000 of these jobs for the local unemployed.
#60 a swim in the sunshine
Ready for 2012, we're bringing Greenwich's historic Hornfair Park lido back to life. The Mayor is investing in the complete refurbishment of the 1,600-foot Hornfair Park Lido, with the intention of having it fully operational before the start of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
#79 a summer like no other
Ready for 2012, we're planning a summer long party across London and everyone's invited. During summer 2012, London will throw the biggest party for Londoners and visitors alike. From 21 July to 9 September 2012, a wealth of extraordinary art and culture will bring the city to life. Wherever you are in London, there will be free opportunities to join in the celebrations of being in a host city.
#80 a meadow to bask in
Ready for 2012, the UK’s largest planting project will run through the Olympic Park. Supported by the Mayor, London 2012 has transformed a contaminated, neglected site while minimising the impact of the Games on the ecology of the Lower Lea Valley and other Games venues. Nearly 4,000 trees, 74,000 plants, 60,000 bulbs and 300,000 wetland shrubs will have been planted on the Olympic Park, the largest planting project ever undertaken in the UK. The Games intend to foster a legacy of enhanced habitats within the Olympic Park and a wider understanding of the importance of biodiversity in supporting healthy lifestyles.
#4 a rally in the park
Ready for 2012, we're bringing tennis to a new community at Burgess Park in Southwark. The Southwark City Tennis Club is based at the new facility in Burgess Park, and aims to bring the game to a new audience. Supported via the Southwark Sport for Social Change Network, the Mayor of London is excited about its prospects for growth, and for unlocking the huge potential that exists in inner London..