There was a clear choice when it came to planning the Games: build for a summer of sport, or build for future generations. It would have been easier to go for the first option.
The Government has always wanted more than a physical legacy for the 2012 Games. The opportunity to make a real difference in London and beyond was just too good to miss. The Olympic Park legacy benefits are pretty easy to understand – homes, schools, jobs, hospitals and better transport to name a few.
My job means I’m responsible for a large part of the “other legacy benefits”– legacy being what’s left when the party is over.
These benefits may be harder to picture – more people taking part in cultural activities, more people doing sport and more people volunteering in their communities are examples of what we want to achieve to improve people’s lives inside and outside London.
But my visit today made me think that these apparently different legacy ambitions have similarities too.
The key to success for both is preparation – doing the groundwork and putting the right foundations in place. John Armitt’s team at the Olympic Delivery Authority have been doing just that on site – hitting every major milestone along the way. Seb Coe’s team at LOCOG are doing the same – making careful plans now so that the 2012 Games are the best the world has ever seen.
And the Government - led by Tessa Jowell, as Olympics Minister - has been doing it too – looking closely at how we can best achieve our ambitions and putting together a plan – the Legacy Action Plan, which will be published in the coming months.
We’re planning regular progress updates, so just as you’ll start seeing buildings rise up on the Olympic Park soon, you’ll also start seeing the impact of the Games in your own community.
And just as the Olympic Park will be an example to all of sustainability, built to the highest possible environmental standards, our plans must be sustainable too. We’re planning for the next five years to 2012 and the fifty that follow.
But perhaps the most obvious similarity between the physical and social benefits of the Games is also the most important: we’ve only got one chance to get this right. There is a lot of work to be done, but the results will be worth it.
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