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Talking Point: Are the Olympic Games truly inclusive?

15:13 30 July 2012

2012 Sign Gravesend

2012 Sign Gravesend

Archant

Finally the Olympics have landed and London, Stratford in particular, is the epicentre of where most of the action is, with a few events located elsewhere – in Brand’s Hatch for instance.

Nicola BathgateNicola Bathgate

For some, living in north Kent means bearing the brunt of the traffic that the Olympics may bring. For others, the festivities across the river feel distant and belonging only to Londoners.

In Gravesham, the council was awarded a £30,000 to celebrate the Games and has organised a host of events including 10 “big screen” live viewings as well as having the Torch paraded through the borough.

But in neighbouring Dartford, the council’s budget was stretched and councillors chose to forego any Olympics celebrations in order to concentrate on other events.

The Olympics aim to use the diversity of London and the UK to inspire change. But do you feel that the Games are truly inclusive?

Janet HaresJanet Hares

Nicky Bathgate, 32, Livingstone Road, Gravesend

I’m very excited about the Olympics coming to Great Britain. I work in Aldgate and I’m looking forward to experiencing the atmosphere around London throughout the Olympics and Paralympics. I managed to get tickets to the men’s hockey through my hockey club and I’m looking forward to experiencing the real thing. I only started playing hockey two years ago when I joined Meopham Ladies Hockey Club.

I’m hoping that the Olympics will inspire others to take up new sports. The Olympics have inspired my husband and I to start cycling and at the end of May we attended the opening day at the new Cyclopark in Northfleet for our first SkyRide. We cycled there along the new Linear Park and then managed a few laps of the 3km track before enjoying a well deserved ice cream.

I also attended one of the test events for the Olympics in May and the Olympic Park looks great. We had an easy journey to and from the Olympic Park – thanks to the high speed rail link from Gravesend. The event was well organised with lots of security to keep everyone moving. There’s lots do and see at the Olympic Park and the atmosphere was buzzing. The real thing is going to be even better!

When I’m not at work I’m looking forward to watching some of the events (hopefully in the sun) on the Big Screens that are in place to watch the Olympics. I think it’s great that Gravesham Council have put these screens in place for people that couldn’t get tickets or can’t travel to the events. It means that everyone can be involved.

There’s so much going on for the Olympics this summer, it’s a great opportunity for people to try new things and meet new people. We just need the weather to warm up a bit.

Janet Hares, Northfleet

With the Olympic Games and the inevitable chaos which will be brought about in the Greater London area and its surrounds, I wonder why they have to be city based, and not country-based like the European and world football championships.

It was clear from the recent Euros, where various stadia in different cities were used, that the economic benefits were shared more fairly across the nations involved as a whole.

If the same applied to the Olympics we could now be sharing the events with venues in Manchester, Birmingham, Newcastle, Cardiff, Glasgow and Belfast to name a few. This would share the economic benefits, as many “Olympo-tourists” would converge not just in London but elsewhere too, bringing with them spending power to boost local economy.

It would ease pressure on an already creaky transport infrastructure, and therefore affect less severely the day to day lives of those living in the South East of the country.

We are used to hearing of the economic bias towards this area, whereas regional centres are ignored, and I feel that it would have been fairer on everyone if the effects of our achieving the important role of hosting the Games could have been more far-reaching. This is not just a “not in my back yard” response to the Games but an opinion that their effects both positive and negative could and should have been far more beneficial to the United Kingdom as a whole.

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