By British Foreign Secretary William Hague MP
On July 27, Britain’s young champion Tom Daley dived into the waters of our stunning new Aquatics Centre and the ripples were felt across the world. That same day, from Trafalgar Square in the heart of London, President Rogge of the International Olympic Committee addressed nations around the globe. He invited the world’s top athletes to form teams to compete at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympics Games. Our countdown has begin.
It is six years since the UK first won the privilege to host the Games in Singapore, and it has been a remarkable journey since. Everything is on track. Construction of the major venues is complete, a year ahead of Games time. We are on budget, on time and set to deliver a great summer of sport and culture.
This is going to be a show to remember – and not just for the sport. Of course the Games are about sporting excellence and extraordinary personal triumphs. No-one knows this better than my friend Lord Coe whose remarkable achievements make him uniquely qualified to put athletes at the heart of planning for 2012. But they are also about so much more.
For me, the Olympic and Paralympics Games are about one word above all others: legacy – about the real difference they can make to people’s lives. That’s not just in the host city, or the host country, but around the world. This vision of an enduring legacy is woven into every aspect of the 2012 Games.
For example, East London has already been transformed before our eyes. Some of the greatest architects and engineers in their fields have designed sports venues that our communities and visitors will enjoy for years to come. And they have achieved this with a remarkable commitment to putting sustainability at the heart of the build, making London the first truly ‘green’ Games in history.
But legacy is also about inspiration – about giving young men and women hope and ambition. And through our International Inspiration programme we have used sport to reach out to over 10 million children in 16 countries across the world, from Azerbaijan to Zambia.
Finally, it is about bringing people together under the Olympic values of friendship, respect and excellence. Over 3.5 million tickets have already been sold. Thousands of people have signed up to volunteer. Hundreds more have been nominated to bear the Olympic flame as it travels the highlands, lowlands and islands on its 70 day journey across the nation.
And for the two months of Olympic and Paralympics sport next summer, in every home and on every radio and television, the Games will be shared and enjoyed by the world.
That’s why, as President Rogge invites Sri Lanka’s athletes to Britain in 2012, I want to invite the people of Sri Lanka to be a part of this momentous occasion too. Today and for the next 12 months, we want to welcome the world to the UK to share in the Olympic and Paralympics experience and discover what makes Britain a great place to live, work, visit, invest and do business.
With 363 days to go, we are ready to host an outstanding Games that will live on in the difference it makes to millions of lives – and we want everyone to be part of it.
London 2012 Facts and Figures
* 4 billion people will tune in to watch the London 2012 opening ceremony (directed by Danny Boyle and Stephen Daldry)
* 200kms of electrical cables installed in 6km tunnels dug under the park
* Over 50% of materials delivered and waste removed by the ODA transferred by trains and barges, severely reducing the carbon emissions associated with delivering by road.
* Over 100 hectares of new parklands are being created in the biggest new urban park built for more than a century — eight km of waterways and includes 500,000 plants and 2,000 newts in wetland reserves.
* During demolition, 97 per cent of the material was reclaimed to be reused in the creation of the Olympic Park. In one of the biggest clean-up operations of its kind, the ODA is cleaning and reusing hundreds of thousands of tonnes of soil which would otherwise have to be transported off site.
*The Olympic Park sports venues will use at least 40 per cent less water than equivalent buildings through initiatives such as collecting rain water on roofs to flush the toilets.
*232 tonnes of potatoes and 330 tonnes of fruit and veg will be consumed during game time
* London 2012 is helping transform one of the most deprived parts of Europe with 75p in every £1 spent on the development of the Olympic Park going towards the regeneration of East London.
* 2818 new homes being built in the Olympic Village
* Stoke Mandeville is the birthplace of the modern Paralympic movement – ‘Mandeville’ being the name of the London 2012 Paralympic mascot. The Olympic mascot is called ‘Wenlock’ after the village in Staffordshire, where Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the father of the modern Olympic Games, got inspiration from the multi-sport Games the village held.
* The London 2012 Olympic Games will feature 26 sports, with 39 disciplines. There are 20 sports in the Paralympic programme for the London 2012 Games.
You can find more information, facts and figures on the London 2012 website – see http://www.london2012.com/games/
Please note there is no problem with quoting information, facts and figures from the site, but please do not take images from the website as this is generally not possible without permission
Historical links: London/the UK and the Olympic and Paralympic Games
Previous London Games:
London stood in as Host City for Rome following the eruption of Mount Vesuvius.
New in 1908:
* The Olympic Stadium (White City) was built especially for the Olympic Games.
* Athletes paraded under their national flags at a ceremony at the start of the Games.
* The Marathon was fixed at 42.195km (26.2 miles) – the distance from Windsor Castle to the Royal Box in the Olympic Stadium. This became the official Marathon distance from the 1924 Games onwards.
1948 London again stepped in at the last minute to host the first Games after World War II.
New in 1948:
* The Games were shown on home television.
* Starting blocks were deployed for sprint races.
* A volunteer programme was created to help run the Games.
UK and Paralympics
In 1948, Dr Ludwig Guttmann organised a wheelchair archery competition at Stoke Mandeville hospital for World War II soldiers with spinal cord injuries.