Jacques Rogge: The London Olympics won't be worse than Beijing – just different

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The Independent Online

I am sometimes asked, and I am sure Lord Coe is tired of the question: "How can London possibly outshine Beijing?" The answer, which I have repeated many times, is that it doesn't need to – London just has to be London. And asking me which Olympic Games is the best is like asking me which of my children I love the best. There is no "best" or "greatest", there is just "different".

Each Games is unique. It is not the amount of money spent that determines how good a Games is, it is also the unique and inspiring atmosphere created within the city. I'm sure London will do very well there.

The forthcoming Games will be the first to implement the Olympic Games Study Commission report of 2003. This report made a series of recommendations to limit the size, cost and complexity of future Games. London has learnt from this, and it will build its Games around legacy and sustainability.

It will use existing and temporary venues, and the city's existing infrastructure. It will only build facilities that will be valued and used by the local community long after the Games are over. London has made regeneration a priority.

London has already left its mark on Olympic history. Its first Games in 1908, 100 years ago, did much to put the Olympic Games back on track, after Rome pulled out due to the eruption of Vesuvius. London also stepped in again to stage the 1948 Games following the Second World War.

These were "austerity Games", staged amidst bombsites in a climate of "mend and make do". They were also the first Games with a large-scale volunteer effort. As a result, they left a volunteering legacy that Britain has benefited from to this day. Based on this proud past, the London 2012 Games offer the opportunity to build on Beijing's success.

I am conscious that we come out of the enormous success of Beijing into difficult economic times. Well, the Games have survived difficult times before. They have survived and thrived because of what they mean to people all over the world. Because while not all of us can be an Olympian, the simple joy of running faster, leaping higher or throwing further makes all of us equal, brings us together, and places each of us firmly in the world. Not apart from it.

This is an edited extract from a lecture given by Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee, at the RSA on Monday

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