As I write Archbishop Desmond Tutu is speaking in the Great Room at an event organised with the Olympic Organising Committee. I have noticed a correlation between how much I want to hear a speaker and how likely it is that Barbara will have double booked me with another event. I was able to welcome the Archbishop but not to stay and I fear that however fascinating is the NCVO working dinner to discuss the role of third sector membership organisations, I will probably be left feeling I have missed out. I suppose there’s always the podcast and video.
My role was so minimal I didn’t even feel able to use to make my own brief comment on the Olympics. If I had it would have been this…..
" It may be a post hoc rationalisation but it seems to me that the Olympics we deem to have succeeded are ones we associate with a strong story about the host city and country. Think Barcelona and Spain’s emergence as a modern democracy. Think Sydney and Australia’s projection as a young and dynamic country. Think China and the demonstration of its status as a new superpower. But what was Atlanta’s story. And what was Athens’?
In 2005 we won the bid on such a story – of London as a diverse city and our Olympic vision of inclusion and participation. But what has happened to that story since? As far as I know the latest statistics show that sporting participation in London has failed to increase since 2005. Tell me if I’m wrong, but I see precious few fruits of the Mayor’s much vaunted sporting strategy.
If we are to have a story to tell about Britain and London in 2012 we better start on it now. Because if we don’t have our own story, and if don’t make it real through a successful strategy to make the Olympics truly inclusive and a catalyst for participation then we will leave it to others to write that story for us. And what they say may be less than flattering."
Come to think of it, I guess it was best I didn’t get the chance to speak. There’s nothing worse than a party pooper.