London Olympics gives Midlands city new sense of identity


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The Independent Online

The 2012 Olympics may be seen in many parts of Britain as the London Games, but not in Coventry. There is no mistaking local pride at being involved in an event which, for the city, begins with Monday's final qualifying match for the Olympic men's football tournament between Oman and Senegal at the Ricoh Arena.

"When I go abroad people know three things about Coventry," said Cllr John Mutton, leader of the city council. "They know our reputation for peace and reconciliation; they know about Lady Godiva; and they know about Jaguar Land Rover. Apart from that they know very little. This gives us a chance to publicise the city." Olympic regulations, which mean the Ricoh will be renamed City of Coventry Stadium, will help achieve this aim.

The Midlands city's economy was hurt by the decline in UK car manufacturing and Mutton added: "The Olympics are brilliant for us. It's not just the 12 football matches. The area's won £80m worth of Olympic-related contracts which has made hosting more than worthwhile." The council has levered £8m from various agencies to spruce up the city while the go-ahead has been given for a new railway station by the Ricoh which will be ready for Coventry's hosting of 2015 Rugby World Cup matches.

The winner of Monday's African/Asian qualifier will join a Games line-up headed by Brazil, Spain, Uruguay and Britain with the draw made on Tuesday.