In just 100 days’ time, the 2012 Olympics will open in London - a spectacular start to the greatest show on earth. We want to share these fantastic Olympic and Paralympic games with the people of The Gambia and that’s why my message to you today is this: “welcome”.
These games - and this summer - will be a proud moment for Britain. We will not only be staging what we’re determined will be the best Olympics ever, but also celebrating the 60-year reign of Her Majesty the Queen – the second longest-serving monarch on the planet. It’s a very special time for our country and we want to share it with the people of The Gambia
I know Britain will be looking its best. We’ve built brilliant new venues - on time and within budget. We’ve got our city ready, our transport systems in place, and we are looking forward to welcoming the world.
What will London 2012 offer? My view is that these games are about two things. Yes, sport will be at the heart of this great competition. We will see world records broken, memories created and new friendships begun during the games themselves. But when the events are over and the medals handed out, I am determined that these Olympics will go on changing lives for the better.
This legacy is vital. When we won our bid, Jacques Rogge, the President of the International Olympic Committee, talked about the “distinctive magic” that the UK will breathe into the 2012 Games - and we’ve been making sure it happens.
As the only city to be awarded the Olympics three times, we’ll be holding the games in a great tradition.
In 1908 the modern Olympics came of age in London - the city where Olympic athletes paraded under their national flags for the first time. The route of the marathon – 26 miles, 385 yards – was set so that the race would start at Windsor Castle and finish in front of the stadium’s Royal Box, and that is the distance that has been used worldwide ever since.
Then, in 1948, the Games took place in the shadow of a devastating world war. Yet London succeeded in bringing countries together to celebrate the Olympic ideals of friendship and international community. More than that, they created new opportunities for women in sport, pioneered the Olympic volunteering movement, and laid the foundations for the modern Paralympic Games.
And this summer, when athletes and visitors arrive, they’ll find a whole new quarter of London around the Olympic Park, in the east of the city. It’s been a powerhouse of regeneration, and when the games are over it will be the site of new homes, business and jobs.
We’ve led the way with new methods of design and construction, using low-carbon technologies to make London 2012 the first truly sustainable Games.
And by investing in new sporting facilities and establishing a new ‘School Games’ competition in schools all around the country, we’re inspiring new generations of young people to experience the joys and benefits of sport.
But the legacy of London 2012 is not limited to Britain. The International Inspiration programme is creating opportunities for more than 12 million people in 20 countries around the world.
Not only is it allowing more young people to enjoy sport today, but it is also helping to change the way these countries promote sport in schools and across society for the long term. It’s a great example of how determined we are to ensure that every nation, and not just the UK, can share in the inspiration of 2012.
So I want these games to be about more than just welcoming athletes to London for a single summer. We want to further enhance our existing links between The Gambia and Britain. If you are a student or academic, is a chance to find out more about a country which has four of the top ten universities in the world, and more than 75 Nobel prizes for science and technology alone.
If you are an entrepreneur or investor, London 2012 is a chance to discover new opportunities in a country which has the fewest barriers to entrepreneurship in the world.
And if you are a tourist or visitor, it is a chance to experience Britain’s unique blend of the old and the new – the history and heritage of our castles, landscapes and royal houses alongside the cutting-edge culture of our music and art, our theatre and fashion.
Great sport. Great business. Great culture.
Hosting the London 2012 Games is a tremendous honour. We want to make it a great moment for Britain, and we are looking forward to welcoming the world to be part of it.