past Olympic cities, become a lightning rod for criticism. While the Olympic Park, one of the largest urban green spaces developed in Europe in more than 150 years, appears to be largely on track, the Olympic Village was controversially downsized by 1,300 homes within the timeframe of the Games’ opening, with kitchens turned into additional bedrooms for athletes to further reduce costs. The Olympic Development Authority’s pledge that 9,000 homes will eventually be built in the park environs has failed to assuage critics, who charge that funding woes mean the Games’ housing legacy will fall short of organizers’ promises.
With four months to go before the lighting of London’s Olympic torch, the city’s planned facilities legacy has, as have many similar plans in |
There is another part of the Olympic legacy that appears on track, however. Sebastian Coe, the former Olympic middle-distance runner who chairs LOCOG, the London 2012 organizing committee, included as part of the original bid that organizers would use it to inspire two million people to take up sport and physical activity. That effort, begun in January, is organized under the umbrella of “Our Greatest Team” and is being spearheaded by Technogym, the Games’ official supplier of fitness equipment. Dubbed “Movergy,” the Cesena, Italy-based company’s community health legacy program is being driven by advertisements urging ordinary citizens to make pledges of wellness and activity before, during and after the games. Some of the pledges shown on the effort’s website, movergy.com, include pledges to “improve my sport performance,” “take more walks,” and “beat my brother at tennis,” but Enrico Manaresi, Technogym’s international media relations manager, says there are more tangible benefits to be had.
“The idea is to leverage the national campaign in order to attract people to clubs,” he says. “The whole population will be exposed to the campaign, supported by Team GB athletes, and in order to make their pledge, they will be motivated to join a club.”
In fact, given the campaign’s website, members of the public do not have to actually visit a health club to make a pledge. However, Technogym is reaching out to more than 5,000 health clubs, schools, universities and local community centers in the hopes of connecting pledge-makers to each other and to local purveyors of sport, fitness and wellness programming, creating “a network of ‘I Pledge’ community hubs,” as the company puts it. Central to the effort will be Visioweb screens on Technogym equipment and club computers connected to the Movergy site.
And Lord Coe? During the March rollout of the “I Pledge” campaign, Coe made his own commitment to “run as far as I can.”