3 February 2012
MP for Dulwich & West Norwood
The BBC’s ‘Room 101’ last week saw Gabby Logan successfully negotiate for ‘people who moan about the Olympics’ to be dumped into the virtual black hole.
Of course it deserves utmost scrutiny on spending and decision-making. But I congratulated Gabby on Twitter for her persuasive case because I share her frustration with those who dismiss our hosting of the world’s most prestigious sporting event as ‘just two weeks of sport and traffic jams’.
The Olympics and Paralympics will sell 10 million tickets, attract a TV audience of a billion and inspire millions because it demonstrates so much more, as Gabby pointed out, ‘in drama, passion, human spirit, triumph against odds and all the things that make people unique’.
Last week, with just six months to go, it was announced that the under-16s volunteer performers for the ceremonies will be selected from schools in the six host boroughs – those auditioning were so excited about taking part in something which may only happen once in their lives. 8,500 residents from these boroughs have worked in the Park and there will be over 1000 events around the UK as part of London 2012’s festival.
The best of British business has helped build our venues, with 1,500 firms winning £6.3bn of contracts, whilst the International Inspiration programme is reaching 12 million young people around the world.
Here in Southwark, the Capital Legacy Fund is benefiting projects all across the borough from the redevelopment of the Herne Hill Velodrome and the upgrading of the Peckham Rye pitches to new facilities for disabled people at the Peckham Pulse Healthy Living Centre.
Londoners should take pride that we will be the focus of the world’s attention. Not just for the records there to be broken but for our young people taking part, for the venues that will benefit local people for decades, and for the 50,000 jobs the Games will create in the area – a new cultural, commercial and sporting quarter in East London fulfilling the promise of our bid. Even the most cynical must be able to raise a cheer for that!
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