UK Politics

London 2012: Lord Coe thanks Labour for Olympics support

Lord Coe
Image caption Lord Coe is a former Conservative MP

Lord Coe has called for cross-party support to ensure the London Olympics leave a successful legacy.

Speaking at the Labour conference, the 2012 chairman said a "consensual" approach to maximising the Games' long-term benefits was essential.

Lord Coe, a two-time gold medallist and former Tory MP, said the event had never been "party political property".

Shadow Olympics minister Tessa Jowell urged ministers "to keep the Olympic promise" to the next generation.

The Games were awarded to London in 2005, after a party including then Prime Minister Tony Blair, London Mayor Ken Livingstone and Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell lobbied in favour of the bid.

Appearing in Manchester, Lord Coe paid tribute in particular to Ms Jowell, who remained a key figure in the organising team after Labour lost power in 2010.

"We could not have got across the line without you," he told her.

Lord Coe, who won the men's 1,500m races at the 1980 and 1984 Olympics, thanked politicians of all parties for their backing, saying it would have been "absolutely unsustainable" for London 2012 to be the property of any one party or group.

After the Olympics, Prime Minister David Cameron appointed Lord Coe the UK's "legacy ambassador", with the task of promoting businesses overseas.

The organisers have promised that the events will leave a sporting and cultural legacy for east London and the rest of the country.

Lord Coe stressed: "It is going to be very important as we go forward with the legacy... The legacy has to be looked at in a consensual way as well."

'No accident'

Ms Jowell said Team GB's winning performances had been "no accident" but the result of "sustained and well-directed investment of public money" since 2005.

She challenged ministers to "keep our Olympic promise" to the next generation of sportsmen and women by maintaining support for community facilities, coaches and sport in schools.

"When we won the right to host the Games we made a promise, that the 2012 Games would inspire a generation. Until the election this was happening in schools across our country.

"The dismantling of this world-class organisation for sport in our schools is beyond belief."

The Olympics and Paralympics had captured an image of "modern Britishness", she added.

Ms Jowell said the Games had displayed "a country of progressive values, with an inclusive and joyous patriotism which celebrated our open, diverse and tolerant society. It was a terrible summer for prejudice, intolerance, cynicism."

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