In just 100 days’ time, this year’s Summer 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 Taiwan and that is 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 are determined will be the best Olympics ever, but also celebrating the 60-year reign of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II — the second-longest serving monarch on the planet. It is a very special time for our country and we want to share it with the people of Taiwan.
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. However, 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, International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge talked about the “distinctive magic” that the UK would breathe into the 2012 Games — and we have been making sure it happens.
As the only city to be awarded the Olympics three times, we will 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 — 42.195km — 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 will find a whole new quarter of London around the Olympic Park, in the east of the city. It has been a powerhouse of regeneration and when the Games are over, it will be the site of new homes, businesses and jobs.
We have 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 are inspiring new generations of young people to experience the joys and benefits of sport.
However, the legacy of London 2012 is not limited to Britain. The International Inspiration program is creating opportunities for more than 12 million people in 20 countries.
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 is a great example of how determined we are to ensure that every nation, and not just the UK, can share in the inspiration of this year.