15 August 2004 – British Prime Minister Tony Blair today made a passionate plea on behalf of the country to host the 2012 Olympic Games during a presentation of the London bid to the world’s media.

In a special video message recorded in the Athletes Village during his visit to the Athens 2004 Olympic Games Prime Minister Blair said that hosting the Games in London would leave a lasting legacy for young athletes and international sport.

He also promised that the London Olympic Games would be based around the Olympic ideals and promote the power of the Olympic movement to transform host cities and communities through sport.

‘I believe that we can build through hosting the Games, a lasting legacy, not just for our country, for sport in our country, for the opportunities for young people in sport in our country, but also for the Olympic movement,’ said Prime Minister Blair.

The Prime Minister said he was inspired by his first Olympic Games experience which included attending the Opening Ceremony, visits to the Athletes Village and several sporting events and official functions.

‘The one thing that I have been struck by more than anything else in this last couple of days here at the Athens Games, is the importance of having an Olympic and Paralympic Games that isn’t just for the few weeks of the Games themselves, but provides something that lasts, that contributes to the country hosting the Games, but as important as anything else, contributes to the Olympic ideals,’ added the Prime Minister.

New Aquatic Centre for London

London 2012 bid Chairman and President Lord Coe also announced in the presentation that work will begin tomorrow (Monday, 16 August) on flagship swimming facilities on the proposed Olympic Park site in East London.

The new Aquatic Centre will include two 50 metre pools and a diving pool built to Olympic standards for use by local communities as well as elite national and international swimmers.

‘The start of the clearing operation tomorrow marks a milestone in bid plans to bring the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games to the United Kingdom in 2012 as well as government efforts to boost participation in swimming and other Olympic sports,’ said Sebastian Coe.

Commenting on the start of London’s new Aquatic Centre the Mayor of London Ken Livingstone said:

‘Once the site is prepared and the winning design has been chosen, the detailed plans can be taken forward to put the Aquatics Centre on the map. London’s bid is forging ahead from the vision, to tasting the reality of a London Olympic Games.’

New and Existing Venues deliver Compact, Less Complex Games

The 2012 Bid leadership team also announced plans to make the London Olympic Games blueprint even more compact by moving some additional venues and sports closer to the Athletes Village.

‘Our aim is to create the best possible conditions for athletes so they in turn can bring out the best in themselves,’ said Lord Coe, the double Olympic gold medallist.

The bid also revealed plans to share more sports in existing venues in the Olympic Park, including existing venue the ExCel Centre which would host a record 6 Olympic sports in 2012 (Boxing, Judo, Table Tennis, Taekwando, Weightlifting and Wrestling) and the futuristic high tech Dome which will stage Gymnastics and Basketball finals.

Sebastian Coe said that using and sharing a combination of existing world famous venues such as Wimbledon, Lords and the new Wembley along with a range of temporary, new and upgraded venues would enable London 2012 to develop a new Games model that would help to manage the scale and complexity of the Olympic Games, a key IOC priority for the 2012 Games.

‘This new reconfigured venue plan, based on valuable feedback we received from the IOC’s recent Candidate Cities report, would make the Olympic Games in London one of the most compact, city based Games ever staged in the heart of a major city,’ Sebastian Coe said.

Experienced Security

Co-locating key Olympic venues together in a single central cluster would help London to provide the best available security for the Olympic Games.

‘Imaginative and innovative security measures will be tailored to needs of athletes, the Olympic Family and the public at each Olympic venue, competition and non-competition,’ Lord Coe said.

‘London’s multi-layered Olympic security plan will be based around the experience of Britain’s security forces which have provided security expertise at several of the world’s biggest international events, including the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.’

Best Ever Olympic Transport Plan

The London 2012 bid team said it would bring the same approach to Olympic transport and promised to deliver the best transport service ever provided for Olympic athletes, the Olympic family and Olympic spectators.

Athletes, Media, and Olympic officials and Family will have dedicated transport travelling to and from venues, training facilities and the Village.

There will be a rail line to every London Olympic venue and a record 10 rail lines into the East London Olympic Park (nine already exist), moving 240 trains an hour – one every 15 seconds – into the main London Olympic complex.

London’s Olympic transport system will also include a special ‘Olympic Javelin’ service – a rapid train shuttle that will carry 25,000 people every hour to the Olympic Park from central London in just 7 minutes. Work on this new rail link is already well underway with the new international station in London’s East End scheduled for completion in 2007.

‘Athletes, the Olympic Family members and spectators will be transported to the London Olympic venues via the most comprehensive 4 week Olympic transport system ever devised for the Olympic Games,’ Sebastian Coe said.

The London 2012 delegation also included Tessa Jowell, British Cabinet Minister for Culture, Media, Sport and the Olympic Bid; London Mayor Ken Livingstone; London 2012 CEO Keith Mills, London 2012 Board Member; Craig Reedie, Chairman of the British Olympic Association and the five time Olympic gold medallist Sir Steve Redgrave.

For further information please contact the London 2012 Press Office in Athens on 210 6199 248, Mike Lee (+44 7775677408) / Jackie Brock-Doyle (697 955 0659), or Fran Edwards (020 7093 5047/07786 437 249) in London.