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London 2012 Games catalyst for socio-economic change – Lord Sebastian Coe

Feb 21, 2012, 1:24 PM | Article By: Lamin Drammeh in L.A. USA

Lord Sebastian Coe, chairman of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and 1984 L.A. Gold Medalist, has told the American business leaders that London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games showcase British industry and power of sport as catalyst for socio-economic and community change.

Coe was speaking at the event hosted by the British and American Business Council at the OMNI Hotel in Los Angeles, California, USA.

He highlighted how the London’s Games preparations have transformed the poorest parts of the capital and changed lives.

On his return to the city where he won a gold medal and silver medal in the 1500m and 800m tract events at the Olympic Games in 1984, Seb Coe was talking to the invited guests including Barbara Hay, British Consul General, about the vital role played by British industries and sponsors in delivering the vision for the London 2012 Games to be catalyst of long-lasting change.

“London 2012 is focused on delivering a spectacular experience for the athletes, but the Games must be about more than sport,” said Coe.

“We wanted to use the Games to address social, economic and sporting priorities in our communities. The Olympic and Paralympic Games are providing an opportunity to break down barriers inclusion and social participation through sport and provide vitally needed new infrastructure and services for communities.”

He continued: “East London has been revitalised by the new Olympic park – a stunning project completed on time and on budget over the last 5 years that has showcased the very best of the British construction industry and project management.

“We have used the Games to build a new city in an old city, transforming some of the poorest communities in Britain. It is the biggest new urban park in Europe for 100 years,” Coe noted.

Physical regeneration is only part of the vision for change that London 2012 has implemented in its preparations for the Olympic and Paralympic Games, which started on July 27.

Coe again: “We are committed to delivering long-term benefits to a hard-pressed community in East London, through the new Olympic Park and community support programmes and infrastructure projects, which have provided life-changing opportunities for job creation, skills and apprenticeship programmes. The investment has also been a much-needed economic stimulus.

“24 per cent of park workers come from the 6 London communities bordering the Olympic Park and 10 per cent were previously unemployed.”

Coe told Los Angeles business leaders that preparations for London 2012 are on schedule and budget despite the extremely challenging global economic conditions.

“A total of 44 world-class businesses have signed up as partners helping to deliver the Games and ensuring that we reach our 1.1bn pounds sponsorship target for London 2012.

“No-one could have anticipated neither the scale nor the prolonged nature of the global economic crisis when we won the bid in July 2005; so to have reached our sponsorship target is considerable achievement and a huge credit to our team.

“This revenue in turn has enabled us to move progressively and smoothly through all the critical stages of preparations for the Games on schedule, while bearing on all possible costs.”

Coe also outlined how London 2012 was touching the lives of more than 12 million young people around the world through its international inspiration sport education and development programme.

According to Coe, the Games are already a fantastic advert for Britain given the fact that it is promoting the country as a place to live, to work, to visit and to do business.

“With the eyes of the world on London 2012, it is a unique opportunity to strengthen our international reputation,” he said, adding that the Games had also helped to provide vital economic activity across the UK in the adverse financial climate.

Coe’s presence at the IOC World Conference on Women and Sport in Los Angeles has also availed him the golden opportunity to give a keynote speech at such great gathering, where he also met with President Jacques Rogge and other members of the International Olympic Committee including Ms Beatrice Allen, Gambia’s IOC member.

Beatrice was accompanied to the US conference by Mary Samba Christensen, chairperson of the Gambia National Olympic Committee’s Women and Sports Commission.