Leading article: Sporting chance

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This newspaper hopes that London's bid will be successful. One reason is that hosting the Olympics in this country would be beneficial for British sport. But it would be folly to regard these games as a panacea in this respect. The key to sporting success lies in encouraging sport at a grassroots level. As Tessa Jowell, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, acknowledges in her interview today, British governments have lamentably failed to do this. The result, as Ms Jowell says, has been a generation of "squandered talent".

The Government must concentrate resources on talent-spotting, coaching, and centres of excellence - as they do in other successful sporting countries. Schools must demand that pupils take part in inclusive, competitive sports. And the scandalous policy of selling off school playing fields must finally be put to an end.

This is the way to produce future champions. This is also how to get more children to adopt a healthy lifestyle.

And Britain needs all these things, regardless of whether London is successful on Wednesday or not.

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