What will we take from this year?

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Living through a pandemic has prompted many to pledge radical shifts in behaviour. Will these endure?

Henry Mance

Sports fans have already started to return to stadiums.

PublishedDec 25, 2020, 5:00 am SGT

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(FINANCIAL TIMES) – Few events try as hard as the Olympics to alter our behaviour. Before the London games in 2012, the organisers promised that millions of Britons would take up exercise and “change the way they live their lives”. Foreigners would be attracted to work and invest in the United Kingdom, helping to turn six weeks of sport into “six years of business benefit”. And while the Olympics lasted, they really did seem transformational. The opening ceremony showed a confident, multicultural Britain, ready to lead the world on the track and off it.

But the legacy of London 2012 melted away. Public participation in sport didn’t increase. Some heroes of the games, Bradley Wiggins and Mo Farah, lost their lustre. The image of Britain at ease with itself was shattered by the referendums on Scottish independence and Brexit. Perhaps the Olympics’ largest legacy was to accelerate the gentrification of a part of east London that would have happened anyway due to its proximity to the banking industry.

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