POSTED: July 9th 2009

Tessa Jowell sets out social challenge for Olympic movement beyond 2012

Tessa Jowell: spelling out the way ahead / Paul Harding, Action Images
Tessa Jowell: spelling out the way ahead / Paul Harding, Action Images

KEIR RADNEDGE / Sports Features Communications

LONDON: British Olympics minister Tessa Jowell challenged the Olympic movement to ensure it honours sport’s wider responsibilities towards society.

Jowell described the manner in which the London 2012 organisers had launched, in an initial five countries, the International Inspiration programme which aims to reach out to 12m young people around the world by 2020.

She said: “This is a challenge to the International Olympic Committee to recast its role and responsibility in the period between now and then.”

However she warned that the mere creation of sports programmes with social ambitions was not enough to “honour to the letter Pierre de Coubertin’s ambition to see the modern Olympics using its power to build opposition to poverty and promote literacy and ambition in countries around the world.”

Jowell, a member of the 2012 bid team successful in Singapore, added: “Just talking about sport for good is not enough.

"Dotting in with a few thousand pounds, setting up a project which makes people feel good for a short period of time is no good at all. What is important is how you build it and safeguard its future.”

On message

She echoed a message from other speakers at the Beyond Sport conference, saying: “For some kids the business of being engaged in football, street cricket, boxing, various forms of martial arts, is incredibly inspiring and helps them discover things about themselves they never knew before.

“Sport has the power to unlock that ambition and we have to be able to help young people channel that ambition and move forward.”

But she warned representatives of sport, business and politics of the dangers of creating projects which merely salved the corporate conscience.

“The great risk," said Jowell, "is that we create programmes in our own image which do not meet the big challenges or even really inhabit the lives of the young people we are seeking to engage.

“We have to start with the grassroots, building the layers of content and activity which create strong local commitment and leadership; define the goals – what is achievable and relevant; then, third, we have to link these projects to wider development goals.”

Keywords · Jowell · IOC · Olympic movement · London 2012 · International Inspiration · Beyond Sport

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