To many people, de Coubertain's vision of a marriage of art and sport is a strange one. My perception of past Games is that this marriage was not particularly close or well functioning. I think London 2012 has the chance to change that and produce the best Cultural Olympiad ever.
Of course, it was at the 1948 London Games that medals were last awarded for artistic and cultural activities. I do not believe that this would be a good tradition to resurrect. There is a plethora of awards for culture already and I don't think you can identify the 'best' piece of art in the way that you can identify the fastest 100m runner of the day.
In 1948 the Arts and Cultural Olympic entries were publicly exhibited in London: our Cultural Olympiad must be a UK-wide, diverse programme of events, projects and activities which truly involve the whole nation, whether they are people who love sport, music, theatre, heritage or film, whether they are able-bodied or disabled.
Involving people all over the UK particularly appeals to us because it is National Lottery players across the UK who are providing about a quarter of the public funding for London 2012.
The UK will be on show to the world in 2012. We have much to be proud in our cultural traditions and creativity. Let's show it off. I know spending on art may be seen as a 'nice to have' in these times of economic austerity but creativity is part of the answer to the challenges we face. Just look how Roosevelt's Government promoted the arts in the Depression in the USA in the 1930s, and I do not buy the argument that collective support for art automatically produces bad art.
And of course art is not limited to the Cultural Olympiad. The ODA are busy making sure that the Olympic Park is not just fit for the purpose of staging athletic events, but will also be a place that people will want to visit, during and after the Games, because of the quality of the design, architecture and, dare one say it, because of its beauty.
If the marriage of art and sport has not always worked well in the past, perhaps, as in other marriages, financial problems has been one of the causes. Therefore I hope that our £16m (that's the good cause proceeds of more than 57 million Lottery tickets) will make a difference we can all enjoy and be proud of.