Games’ backers ‘just pausing for breath’

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Lord Sebastian Coe believes critics of the legacy of the London 
Olympics need to take a wider look at the way sport in general has benefited.

He believes companies who backed the Games are now funding sport in other areas.

Coe, who now fills the role of Legacy Ambassador, said: “If you look at the companies that were in the Games they have stayed in sport but they’ve tended to go into the community space, which actually is a good thing.”

He claims that a drop in funding from major backers was to be expected but he retains confidence in the Games legacy, even if the money is not now going to help the big names.

“It was never going to be at the same level because once you’ve had a Games and you’ve had seven years of extraordinary opportunity, those companies are probably not going to come back and instinctively look at the Jessica Ennis’s and the Chris Hoys,” he added.

“I think they are looking at the long haul.”

Coe pointed to work with community and school projects to encourage children to take part in sport.

“We looked very clearly and carefully at what was the provision lacking in schools. The reality of it was that very little was happening in primary schools

“What I think we’re witnessing is a lot of those companies that were supporting the Games are just pausing for breath.

“A lot of companies that were working in that Olympics sphere are still working in that Olympics sphere and have chosen to go to some of the legacy projects, some of the legacy concepts.”

Sport England points out that there are 1.4m more people playing sport than in 2005, when London won the right to stage the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics.

Sports Minister Hugh Robertson said: “We’ve made an incredibly good start [to building a legacy] but I would be the first to admit there is an awful lot left to do.

“I don’t think we’ll be able to make a judgment on the legacy until three years after the Olympics, maybe five, and probably, if we are being really honest, until a decade has passed since London 2012.

“The single most important legacy we have got from London 2012 is that, everywhere I go around the world, people still reminisce about the Games and say ‘well done’ for laying on the best Olympics and Paralympics of all time.”