- London 2012 and the Post-Olympics City: A Hollow Legacy? ed. by Phil Cohen and Paul Watt
Phil Cohen and Paul Watt's edited book London 2012 and the Post-Olympics City: A Hollow Legacy? approaches the Olympics in prospect and retrospect. Cohen and Watt explain that the research in the volume was carried out at the London 2012 Games and examines the immediate impact on the city, reflecting the analytical tendency of looking at the Olympics through a relatively short of time. The discussion synthesizes changes brought on by the host of an Olympic Games and its effect on the long-term impact of the post-Olympic environment.
The book is divided into four sections discussing the following points: (1) the context of the London 2012 Games, considering economic, infrastructure, security, and policing areas, focusing on how changes were applied to the East London area and their consequences; (2) the Olympic legacy through a sociological lens focusing on the residents' opinion about the "new" neighborhood and the transformation made in local urban planning; (3) the social legacy of the games and their consequence in two areas: physical activity and the disability sports; and (4) reflections about the next two Olympic summer editions: Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020.
The Olympic Games are thought to be a catalyst for essential changes in the host city over a short period of time. Urban planning is one of the most discussed themes, serving as a major advertisement for the games and as an argument for citizens to support the bid. Gavin Poynter analyzes how London 2012 affected the East London area in economic terms and the improvements made, mainly in the transport infrastructure, which provoked the necessary environment for attracting new investors. This transformation evokes an image that all changes are brought to the "old" neighborhood and their citizens. Instead, the "new" neighborhood creates an environment made for the "outside" people, and this condition can generate a gentrification movement.
The Olympic Games also imply a strong view of social improvements. A standard impression that mega-events work well as an inspiration or catalyst to improve levels in certain areas is not always true because the level of engagement needed is not always present to result in changes in that area. For example, Mike Weed concludes that London 2012 has not inspired a generation to improve their levels of health and physical activity, thus not achieving the social potential of the Olympics in this area. On the other hand, Ian Brittain and Leonardo Mataruna demonstrate the social legacy of London 2012 in the area of disability sport, showing how this helped create a framework to evaluate similar issues at the 2016 Rio Olympics; they conclude that long-term j ob opportunities and the inclusion of local culture must be discussed in the early phase of games' preparation. Looking to the future, Phil Cohen, Paul Watt, and Grace Basurto discuss how Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo might copy the London model and do better than the British example, taking advantage of all the investment made from this event. This kind of discussion should provide a benchmark for the other cities that intend to host the Olympics, aligning the IOC's obligations and the necessities of the city and producing a better cost-benefit for all stakeholders. [End Page 410]
The two editors have written a concluding chapter, stating that each Olympic city should be studied through its own experiences, understanding the meaning of the Olympics to the host city and its costs and benefits for its citizens. Addressing all of these aspects will contribute a deeper analysis regarding urban regeneration. This is an excellent volume for Olympic scholars about the costs of mega-events and their importance regarding the improvements brought to the city and its citizens. The book is a blueprint for Olympic and Paralympic scholars to understand the magnitude of mega-events and how London 2012 and future games could influence local urban regeneration...