It is now only five days until Danny Boyle's creative spectacular officially raises the curtain on the greatest show on earth, and London becomes the first city to host the Olympics three times. It's a great honour and a huge responsibility, but it is one that we are ready to live up to.
With the eyes of the world upon us, London 2012 has the potential to be one of the greatest moments in our country's recent history. We are confident that we are all set to stage a safe and spectacular Games which will do the country and the world's finest athletes proud.
When you are staging the largest event in the world – the equivalent of 26 simultaneous world championships and the single biggest diplomatic and security operation this country has ever undertaken – there are challenges. That is what all of us involved in London 2012 have been planning for over the past few years and why we have put such well-developed contingency plans in place. There will be more challenges to come in the final few days and hours. But overall, we are in an incredibly strong position.
We Brits are incredibly good at looking for problems when things are actually going incredibly well. As we count down and the weather looks up, it's time for everyone to put aside the usual British cynicism and start getting behind the Games. Thousands of athletes have landed safely in the UK, getting through Heathrow quickly, despite record-breaking numbers of arrivals, making themselves at home in the Olympic Village and working on their performance. More than 10 million people have cheered on the Olympic torch as it has made its way around the country, thousands more welcoming it to London at Friday night's Tower of London ceremony.
In difficult times, the Olympic build has been a remarkable success story for the UK and a great advert for UK plc. Europe's largest construction project was not only completed on time, within budget, and to cutting-edge standards, but has also transformed one of London's most deprived areas into one of its best served.
But the real London 2012 story is only just beginning. This is the very first Games which have been designed right from the start with legacy at its heart – not just for east London, but for the whole of the country. The Games are expected to generate around £13bn for the UK economy in the coming years, by attracting more trade, investment, and visitors to our shores. Already UK businesses have started to capitalise on the expertise they have developed from being involved in such a prestigious project, and we are determined to take every opportunity to bang the drum for the UK and UK plc in the years ahead. That is why we have developed the GREAT campaign, showcasing the best that this country has to offer.
We are also working hard to turn a summer of sporting inspiration into a lifetime of sporting benefits for young people and communities across the country. Hundreds of community facilities have already been upgraded; thousands of local coaches and volunteers have been recruited; playing fields up and down the country have been protected and upgraded; and more than 13,000 schools have taken part in the very first School Games. By definition, the legacy of London 2012 will come after the Games, but the foundations are firmly in place.
The torch is nearing the Olympic Stadium. Our athletes are among the best-prepared in the world, thanks to our world-class, elite sporting system. It is time to focus on the nation's sporting heroes and celebrate a unique and remarkable moment in the history of this country.
Jeremy Hunt is Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport
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