The London 2012 Olympics are over and I enjoyed almost every tense, drama-filled minute of it. Even though the build up to it was immense, it exceeded its high expectations as shown by the amazement of many. Most of the country was very proud and honoured to have been able to share the experience with millions of people around the world, both during the Olympic torch parade and the Games with our athletes and volunteers vividly showing the best of our country.
I would like to congratulate councils across the country for organising and hosting the Olympic torch relay as well as using the Games as a way to inspire communities to come together and get involved. This includes hosting various events, encouraging people to volunteer and ensuring that everything was well organised from transport to safety. When I chaired London Councils six years ago it was hard to convince all the London Boroughs that 2012 would bring something to their areas and that the Games would not just be about east London. Even I could not have imagined that the torch relay would change the Olympics from “London 2012” to “Great Britain 2012”.
One of my fondest memories has to be AbFab’s Patsy and Edina carrying – more like tottering - the torch along a bit of the King’s Road in my borough, Kensington and Chelsea, shortly followed by it being greeted by Opera Holland Park singing Ode to Joy. That sort of bizarre mixture paved the way for the brilliant, self-deprecating and almost anarchic Opening Ceremony.
And now the Paralympics are almost upon us starting on 29 August and promising to be just as inspirational and as difficult to get a seat. As well as events hosted in the Olympic Park, there will also be events across the country, with councils fully playing their part once again. It’s almost certain that London 2012 Paralympics will be the first to sell out in the Games' 52-year history and it is likely to change people’s views of disability forever.
I’ve mentioned before about the sport legacy work that councils are fully involved in at a local level (see the blog post below). Already we spend £1.8 billion a year and this is yet another key area where councils are playing a crucial role.
Enjoy and indeed treasure the next few weeks.