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The not so inspiring Olympics

Far from inspiring a generation to take up sport it seems the Olympics has actually been accompanied by a decline in the level of participation among the target group of young people. Sport England's latest survey shows a decline among 16 to 25 year olds from 55.7% to 54% since the Olympic bid was won in 2005. Adults and women have shown an increase, with a leap in July and August, although the rise among women follows a fall in last year's survey. The main increases have been among the better off who already enjoy far higher levels of activity while the much lower levels of participation among poorer groups have barely changed. The original target set by the previous government was to get one million more people to participate in sport three times a week in the five years to 2013. They are still 500,000 from that goal.

None of this is particularly surprising as there is little evidence that holding a mega event will produce improvements in sport participation. That there is a flurry of activity around such an event is to be expected but the failure to produce even this excitement among young people is particularly disturbing. The real test will come in the next year or so to see if even the improvements seen in the immediate aftermath of the Games are sustained.

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