New survey reveals drop in sports participation since 2012 London Olympics

Photo: Paul Nuttall/Flickr

Latest Active People Survey shows that activity in London is lower now than before the 2012 London Games. Photo: Paul Nuttall/Flickr


By Mads A. Wickstrøm
Figures from Sport England show that the number of people engaging in physical activity has fallen by 0.4% since the London Olympics in 2012. “Disappointing,” says former sports minister Richard Caborn.

The International Olympic Committee’s announcement of London as the winner of the bid for the 2012 Olympic Games was received with widespread praise among its supporters. Sebastian Coe, chairman of the London bid for the 2012 Olympic Games, pledged to use the event to inspire two million to take up sport and physical activity, placing it at the heart of the city’s Olympic legacy.

Sport England, a public organisation under the Department for Culture, Media and Sport in the United Kingdom, carries out their annual survey, asking more than 170.000 people how often they exercise or participate in sport. The latest survey shows that the number of people who regularly take part in sport and physical activity hasve risen by 1.75 million since 2005/6. The number of women engaging in physical activities accounts for more than 75 percent of the increase. Furthermore, the number of young people aged between 16 and 25 playing sport has increased by 1.4 percent since the 2012 London Olympics. These figures suggest a move in the right direction.

However, the number of people who take part in physical activities at least once a week has dropped by 0.4 percent in 2016 compared to 2012. People from economically-deprived areas and ethnic minority groups have seen the biggest decline. These groups have experienced a decline of people participating in weekly activities of 2.9 % and 1.4 % respectively. Results reveal regional differences, making Oxford the region which saw the biggest increase (14%), compared to Doncaster, in South Yorkshire, where activity decreased by 13.2%.

"A lot of the reasons why people don't get into sport come down to the individual themselves. Do they have the time, money and the facilities nearby?”. according says Helen Marney, from the Yorkshire Sport Foundation to the BBC.

Since 2012, investments in sports projects have been declining. "I'm disappointed that since 2012 there's been a fall but going forward we have to make sure that we get more money into grassroots sport. That means funding things like Parkruns and community projects and not just focusing on giving big sport associations lots of money and then letting them to decide how best to use it," according tosays Richard Caborn, former sports minister in an interview with the BBC. 

More information


To read more about the Active People Survey, click here.  

To read a Sport England press release about the newest survey, click here

A BBC article about the latest numbers can be found here.



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