IOC 'happy' with Olympics 2012 preparations, says Jacques Rogge

 

London will deliver "the greatest show on Earth" at this summer's Olympics and Paralympics, Prime Minister David Cameron promised today as he welcomed inspectors from the International Olympics Committee (IOC) on their final inspection visit before the Games begin.

He also won a positive response from the committee's president Jacques Rogge, who said after viewing the level of London's preparedness: "We are happy at the IOC."

Speaking alongside Mr Rogge at 10 Downing Street, Mr Cameron said that the London Games would provide a lasting legacy to improve Britain's sport, health, culture and economy.

Promising "great sport, great culture, great business and great legacy for Britain", Mr Cameron hailed the efforts to encourage young people to get involved in sporting events including the School Games.

"The Olympics will revitalise local sport in Britain for generations to come," said the Prime Minister.

He highlighted successes in finding uses for arenas following the conclusion of the two-week Games, telling Mr Rogge: "I think it is time to tear up any notion of the Olympics leaving behind white elephants."

Mr Rogge is in Britain to get updates on Games preparations from Mr Cameron, Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt, London 2012 chairman Lord Coe and Sports Minister Hugh Robertson as IOC inspectors begin their final three-day visit before the Olympics begin in July.

On the agenda for his Downing Street meeting with Mr Cameron was an action plan from which both Government and organisers hope to secure long-term benefits from staging the Games in Stratford, east London.

Mr Rogge said: "London has raised the bar on how to deliver a lasting legacy.

"We can already see tangible results in the remarkable regeneration of east London.

"This great historical city has created a legacy blueprint for future Games hosts."

Mr Rogge was also meeting 2000 Olympic heptathlon champion Denise Lewis, former Olympic sprinters Darren Campbell and Jason Gardener, plus double Paralympic swimming gold medallist Ellie Simmonds, who are the newly named ambassadors for the Sainsbury's School Games.

The Princess Royal and Mr Cameron were hosting a Downing Street reception for youngsters who are involved in the event.

Up to 1,600 schoolchildren are competing in this multi-sport competition, which includes disability contests, with the finals taking place at the Olympic Park in May.

Mr Cameron said the schools competition was an important part of a legacy effort which had also seen the Olympic Delivery Authority ensure that contracts to supply the London games went to companies from all parts of the UK.

"British companies - not just in England, but Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland - have done extremely well out of these contracts and quite rightly too, and I pay credit to the ODA for the work they have done," said the PM.

"But that is only one part of the legacy. There are other items of legacy that are harder to touch but equally important.

"The legacy of encouraging volunteering - 70,000 volunteers trying to create an atmosphere where people want to come forward and volunteer. That's an important legacy.

"The legacy of sports in schools, where we have got half the country's schools taking part in a schools Olympics.

"And the least tangible of all, which is the inspiration people will feel when they see great British athletes, whether rowing in a race, riding on a bicycle or running on the track.

"It's well-known that this has a transformational effect. You can have any number of Government summits about sport in schools, but the sight of Chris Hoy or someone like that has people in the shops saying 'I want to buy a bicycle, I want to get on my bike'.

"That's the bit you can't touch, but it is very, very powerful and I think can bring the country together.

"Making sure that there are live sites around the country where people can see the Games is important, and also of course... we must make the most of the live free events - the marathon, the road race and things people can come to in London and elsewhere.

"I think it is very important, and the steering committee has been discussing this, that we promote these so everyone around the country sees they can take part and touch and get involved in the Olympics.

"And I haven't mentioned the torch relay, which I'm pleased to say is going through my constituency and is going to be within 10 miles of 95% of the country."

PA

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