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Lord Coe: 10 years on from London 2012

4 min read

It is hard to believe the London 2012 Olympic Games are already celebrating their 10-year anniversary.
It seems like only yesterday we were celebrating the opening ceremony, when Great Britain welcomed the world to London with a riveting spectacle imagined by Danny Boyle.

The entire nation contributed to the Games in one way or another, from enthusiastic volunteers to our beloved Queen and her trusty pack of corgis.

Although the whole event seemed to steam along seamlessly, behind the scenes it took hundreds of hours of meetings, phone calls and discussions, help from all levels of government – including parliamentarians Tessa Jowell, Hugh Robertson and Ming Campbell, who remained involved from start to finish – to help ensure that we delivered the “best Games ever”.

What we delivered as a country is nothing short of remarkable. We produced a truly British product from start to finish, made in Britain by Britain, and what I am most proud of is that, in the process, we showed ourselves to be a creative, competent, multicultural country, proud of its history and protective of its heritage. People across the United Kingdom got behind the Games and made them “Great”.

My one regret from London 2012 is that we didn’t create a lasting platform for school sport

I am also proud that we continue to see the value of hosting these Games 10 years on. The Organising Committee – which I chaired – raised around £2.3bn to stage the Games. This money, which came primarily from tickets, merchandising and sponsorship, along with the Olympic Delivery Authority’s government funding, created state of the art sporting venues – venues that London did not have at the time – and a whole new district in the heart of east London. All this in seven years or less – a feat that would normally take 50 or 60 years to achieve. This is but one of the reasons our Games are still being used as an international template today. 

The 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games laid the foundations for forward-thinking and innovative organisations like the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park to drive forward jobs and skills, residential development, sport and leisure, education and many other important areas of strong community living. 

The continuation of this legacy is key, but it does not sit with the Local Organising Committee; our job finished long ago. This role always sat and continues to sit at government level – local, regional and national – and efforts need to be made to ensure this positive legacy is built on year by year and decade by decade.

My one regret from London 2012 is that we didn’t create a lasting platform for school sport. Whilst more people are running, cycling and swimming in the UK today than they were pre-Games, we missed the opportunity to restructure school sport. We had the perfect occasion to do this at the time, but unfortunately we missed the mark. My hope today is that this important cause is taken up by our politicians of all persuasions at a time when the positive impacts of sport on mental health are widely known, and urgently needed.

It is safe to say that we are living in a difficult time today. The world seems more divided than ever before, but I am heartened when I think back to 2012 when the people of London and the UK came together behind one single vision and goal – and maybe there is a lesson. At that time, so many people came together who probably didn’t think they had much in common but quickly realised there is more that unites Britons than divides us.

As I said during the closing ceremony in 2012, “There are some famous words that, when you read them, you know mean high quality, mean skill, mean creativity. We’ve stamped those words on the Olympic and Paralympic Games of London 2012 – MADE IN BRITAIN.” They were, and I am forever grateful to the millions of people across the UK that made the Games “Great”. 

Lord Coe is President of World Athletics and a member of the International Olympic Committee

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