Sustainability vs legacy at London 2012

I’ve spent enough time in committees and struggling against bureaucracy to really appreciate the recent BBC sitcom Twenty Twelve, a spoof fly-on-the-wall series which has been uncannily prescient about some of the issues around the real London 2012 Olympic Games. The continuing internal friction between the mock Olympic Deliverance Commission’s heads of ‘sustainability’ and ‘legacy’ was particularly well observed, I thought, especially when both were in danger of being trumped by a new emphasis on ‘inheritance’.

So when I was approached by a leading online magazine to contribute a series of articles on the sustainability aspects of London 2012, I was at first a little bemused. So much management-speak to navigate, and so many statistics to decipher, before getting to the really interesting stuff about the environmental impact of this huge international sportsfest and some of the science and technology behind the games.

London 2012 fireworks (pic: Dept for Culture Media and Sport)

The site,, is mostly focused on the sports, politics, and business of big games events worldwide – not just the Olympics but also the Paralympics, Winter Olympics, Commonwealth Games, and other major sports spectaculars. It has touched on issues around sustainability before, but I think this new focus – and hiring a specialist writer like yours truly – is a new departure.

My first contribution, an overview of what sustainability means in the context on London 2012 – is now live. There’s more to come, including I hope some exploration of the science that makes modern athletics and other sports so successful.

UPDATE 14 Aug: My second feature, looking at air pollution monitoring in connection with London 2012, has now gone live. See it here.

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