Below is an excerpt from my current budget health clubs article for Leisure Report Journal.
Three years have already passed since London narrowly pipped Paris by 54 votes to 50 to secure the right to host the 30th summer Olympic and Paralympic Games. Paris was strongly tipped to secure the vote in Singapore with Madrid, London, New York and Moscow making up the numbers. Paris had submitted a compelling bid and possessed the experience of delivering Olympic Games in 1900 and 1924, and yet, London came from behind to win. Commentators and analysts began debating what had made the difference for London. Some pointed towards the ‘inspirational’ video that formed part of the London bid showing how any child with a dream, regardless of their background, can become an Olympian. Alternatively, was it Princess Anne inviting International Olympic Committee (I.O.C) members to Buckingham Palace should London be awarded the games. We will never know why 54 I.O.C members chose to vote the way they did, but I am sure that the words of Seb Coe, Chairman of the London Organising Committee, made a significant difference.
A window to a new world
Coe told the story of how as a 12-year old he and the rest of his class were put in front of a small black and white television in the school hall to watch John Sherwood, a local athlete, win a bronze medal at the 1968 Mexico Olympics. As he sat and watched, his life changed. ‘A window to a new world opened; at that moment I knew what I wanted to be, I knew what I wanted to do’ Coe told I.O.C members. Twelve years later, Coe, himself, was an Olympic Champion, when he stormed to victory at the Moscow games.
A promise to ignite dreams
The London bid prevailed in Singapore because it promised more than most previous host cities. Yes, London would deliver a memorable games – it had already proved that in hosting games in 1908 and 1948, but it also promised to ignite the dreams of young people, not just in the UK, but throughout the world. London promised to inspire young people to discover sport and to fall in love with it. London would harness the power of the Olympics to re-connect with young people whose lives were filled with ‘distractions’, but perhaps lacking purpose.
Using the Olympics to engage with young people was evident in the inspired decision to take 30 East London children to Singapore as part of London’s bid team, while other candidate cities stuffed their seats with politicians and business people.
An Olympics Games that aims to transform the lives of a whole generation, not just a few elite athletes has never before been attempted. This makes London’s ambition for 2012 far bigger than any previous host city and is the absolute core of the London 2012 legacy.
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