It was on July 6, 2005, that London won the right to stage the Games of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad. Since then there have been many pledges about London 2012 creating sustainable social, economic and sporting legacies in the UK and around the world.
To their credit, there have been and there will be many achievements in the areas of youth, sport, people and transformation in general, particularly in London.
However, so far in all of this there has been one big loser – business. All of those firms, many in the Midlands, who helped to build the magnificent facilities in the east of London had to pledge not to promote their luck in securing the contract for marketing purposes.
The Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) was fearful that the many key sponsors involved in the Olympics would object and therefore most contractors were gagged.
That’s a pity. Because firms who have put in an enormous amount of excellent work have missed out on the opportunity to create a business legacy around the Games. Only now, seven years after the Games were awarded to London, is the ODA thinking of relaxing that stranglehold.
The Prime Minister seems to recognise that there has been an enormous missed opportunity here. David Cameron said: “It’s precisely because times are tough that we’ve got to get everything we can out of these Games to support jobs and to support growth in the economy.”
But creating a business legacy has not been easy for many of the companies involved in building and delivering the London Games.
Thousands of British businesses, many of them in Greater Birmingham, won contracts. But most have been unable to shout about their success because the event’s organisers feared it could upset the big-name official sponsors.
Peter Murray, head of New London Architecture, an organisation that promotes the best of London architecture, wanted to stage a not-for-profit Olympics exhibition to celebrate the work of British companies.
But after a few months he received a letter from the ODA legal department saying they couldn’t do it as it was against the marketing rights protocol.
That 32-page protocol was put in place by the ODA to protect the official sponsors.
That is understandable because these large financial contributions have largely paid the £2 billion to stage the event.
But many people believe the rules seem to have been taken too far. In the current economic climate, companies could have been given a huge boost if they had been allowed to bask in a little Olympic glory.
The opportunities for main contractors and smaller players would have been enormous in promoting their work overseas.
They were allowed only to put a line on their websites or in promotional literature. But when you consider that the Olympics venues were built on time and on budget, that really should have been something to shout about for the companies involved.
But they had to sign a contract five years ago that put huge restrictions on marketing their links to the event that cover the times before, during and in some cases up to 12 years after the Games.