The London Olympics seemed that bit closer yesterday, with the announcement of the route for the 70-day torch relay. The organisers' ambitions for festivities and conviviality along the way are admirable, as is the geographical reach. The torch will arrive at Land's End, and criss-cross the country, including highlands and islands, before reaching the Stratford stadium on 27 July. Lord Coe said he wanted everyone in the country to be within an hour's journey of the relay. That bodes well for the London Games to be embraced in every corner of the land.
We would like to think that the opportunities to take part in the relay would be as wide open and welcoming as the route. With the search for "inspirational torch-bearers" now launched, however, it transpires that fully three quarters of the total of 8,000 runners will be selected by the commercial sponsors. The organisers say they want half of those selected to be between 12 and 24, and the other half to be chosen for their achievement or contribution to the local community. It is to be hoped the sponsors stick to that guidance. We understand the need for sponsorship, and London 2012 looks set fair to be a commercial success. But if the Games are to be a truly national event, popular, spontaneous and grass-roots elements must not be lost.Reuse content