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Coalition questions sport participation targets as Olympics gold dust fails to inspire

Back in 2007 Tessa Jowell said "The gold dust of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games could be the way to inspire so many young people to change their lives, to increase their involvement in sport and arts." The Government had set a target of getting two million more people involved in sport by 2012.

In June 2010, despite the gold dust being sprinkled by the upcoming 2012 Olympic Games, the National Audit Office reported that Sport England had missed virtually all of its targets in terms of encouraging participation in sport and in some areas participation, particularly among women and minorities, had actually fallen.

Olympics Minister, Hugh Roberston, is now wondering whether it is time to cut and run. "It may well be that once we've been through the process that we settle with the two million target... but what I'm going to do is get the policy right first and then we will set the targets by which we benchmark it."

However, it is unclear whether the two million target even exists as Sport England now has a strategy of raising the number of people doing "moderate intensity sport for at least 30 minutes three times a week by March 2013" by one million.

Poor Len Duvall, chairman of the GLA Olympics Committee has also been fretting over the problem: "When London won the Games we were told they would inspire two million people to take up sport.

"We want to know what's being done to make that commitment a reality."

Don't we all, Len!

Of course Len and Hugh might have saved themselves the trouble if they had bothered to read a 2007 report by the Culture, Media and Sport Committee which concluded that “no host country has yet been able to demonstrate a direct benefit from the Olympic Games in the form of a lasting increase in participation.”

Tessa knew all along, after all it was the Select Committee tracking her department that produced the report, although that doesn't mean she paid any attention!

Sorry chaps, it was never going to happen.

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