David Cameron today attempted to extract as much political capital as possible from the success of the London Games – linking Britain’s sporting endeavour with efforts to rebuild the economy.
In remarks to mark the conclusion of the Games Mr Cameron tried to capitalise on the national feel-good factor they generated by suggesting they proved that the UK's “time has come”.
He also confirmed that elite sports would continue to receive £125 million a year up to the next Games in Rio de Janeiro in a bid to emulate the record medal haul.
The Government will also to bring forward proposals in the autumn – in consultation with its new Olympic Legacy Ambassador Lord Core - for how to enshrine competitive sports within the curriculum.
In a press conference with Lord Coe at Downing Street Mr Cameron said the success in delivering Olympics showed just what Britain could do on the world stage.
“You only need two words to sum up these Games: Britain delivered,” he said.
“We showed the world what we are made of, we reminded ourselves what we can do and we demonstrated that you should never ever count Team GB down and out.
“The lesson of these past weeks is that Britain can, and should, be ambitious.
“That spirit should be taken forward. Yes we have enormous economic challenges to meet and we’re in a very competitive world where some countries won’t make it because they haven’t got the gumption to tackle their problems; get their debt down, improve their education systems, make sure they fund their welfare system.
“But if we are a country that does those things we can be a great success story. The moral of the Olympics is if you want to achieve great things you have to work really hard to get them – that’s what the Government and everyone has to do.”
Downing Street later confirmed that member of the Armed Forces and the Police involved with games will be given a commemorative coin to thank them for delivering a safe and secure Olympic Games. In addition 70,000 commemorative batons will be given to the Olympic volunteers by LOCOG.
Raising the spectre of the Big Society again Mr Cameron said he hoped to capitalise on the enthusiasm showed by the Olympic volunteers to get them to more in the future.
“These Games have yet again shown that Britain is a great volunteering nation. We need to make the most of this magic moment and harness the enthusiasm for sport and for volunteering the Games has generated.”
IOC chief Jacques Rogge said it was important that the Government capitalised on the success of the Games – by providing proper support to all sports.
“I think that is the challenge that Great Britain faces now, to continue on the wave, to continue to surf the wave, but this will require investment, of course, in these sports, definitely longer term investment,” he said.
“I think there is a great foundation being laid by these games in all of the sports, but then the sports organisations but also the Ministry of Sport must have a long term plan on how to capitalise on that and how to continue to have this success”
Asked whether the four years cash that the government has guaranteed constituted a long enough investment he replied: “You know, I'm a foreigner in this beautiful country. It is not up to tell the government what to do. But it goes without saying, if you have long term strategies you have good results.”