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885. Intersectoral partnership: a potential legacy success of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games

Research Article
Milton K, Cavill N and Bauman A.
November 2018

Commentary by Prof Adrian Bauman, GlobalPAnet Executive, The University of Sydney, Australia.

Source: International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics

This paper explores an often quoted but rarely actualised phenomenon, namely intersectoral partnerships between sport and health. The genesis of this idea was the planning for the London 2012 Olympics, where active Legacy strategies were envisaged. Some of these legacy plans related to urban infrastructure in London, transport systems and economic issues, including tourism surrounding the Olympic Games. Other components of the proposed London Olympic legacy included the inspirational goal to get more people to participate in sport and physical activity. As with several previous Olympic Games, some of the infrastructure gains were realised, but the London Olympics did not increase the population prevalence of participation in physical activity. Using representative national Active People Survey data, the proportion classified as "active" remained around 36% in 2007, 2011/12 and 2015/16.

Nonetheless one of the by-products of the Olympics was a clear development of a partnership between Sport England and Public Health England, who started to work together through the planning of the 2012 Olympics. This is a case study of a good example of intersectoral partnership working well and leading to several attributes of good intersectoral action. Although this is often espoused, actual national examples of intersectoral functioning are relatively uncommon.

First, both Sport England and Public Health England developed common policy platforms that both reflected physical activity in a similar way. More importantly, Sport England developed physical activity specific products, not just those focusing on organised sport or the sport sector. Most importantly, cross-sectoral funding occurred to support physical activity initiatives at the community level, either in towns all small regions in England. This kind of shared action demonstrated a common purpose, with the underpinning values that community sport participation has an important contributing role to physical activity, but is not the sole component of population physical activity promotion.

In the implementation of GAPPA, the Global Action Plan for Physical Activity that WHO released this year, more nations or subnational jurisdictions will need to implement common policy strategies in this way, in order to increase physical activity across the population. It is likely that some European countries already do this quite well, but this is not generally the case in countries like Australia or USA, where policy silos remain the status quo.