POSTED: October 31st 2009

Blair and Coe and the 'hidden legacy' of London's victory in Singapore

Meeting of minds: Jacques Rogge and Seb Coe / lake images
Meeting of minds: Jacques Rogge and Seb Coe / lake images

KEIR RADNEDGE / Sports Features Communications

LONDON: Amid all today's celebrations of 1,000 days to the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games in London one extra legacy factor is at risk of being overlooked.

Until that Singapore day when IOC president Jacques Rogge - even, it appeared, to his own surprise - pronounced ‘London’ as bid winners an air of doom and gloom had surrounded every British bid to host any major event.

London media commentators had filled thousands of column inches down the previous decade deriding the lack of British influence at the highest levels of international sport.

England’s bid to host the 1998 and then the 2006 World Cups had both collapsed, the one almost before it was born; none of the main sports governing bodies were being led by the British. This was particularly galling since it was the English public schools and colleges whose ethos and enthusiasms had led to the founding of modern organised sport in the mid-19th century.

Bid failures

Certainly the Manchester hosting of the Commonwealth Games in 2002 had been a success but was discounted as mere ‘political family event’.

No Englishman or even Briton had ever been president of the IOC and Sir Stanley Rous had been ousted as president of FIFA back in 1974. The British failure in bid terms had been exacerbated by a failure to find anyone who could put their hands on levers of power.

Then, under a persuasive pincer movement led by Prime Minister Tony Blair (pictured, right) and former Olympic gold-medallist Seb Coe, London beat Paris in the final round of voting in Singapore on July 6, 2005. It was only round of polling among the IOC members which London won.

Victory produced a revolutionary mood within British sport. The rugby league and rugby union world cups are heading for England and a solid bid is in place to host football’s World Cup in 2018 or 2022.

A huge emphasis has been placed, around London 2012, on that buzz word “legacy.” This, in its narrowest form, means sports facilities and ongoing inspiration as well as urban transformation. Hence London 2012's legacy for British sport is equally significant in terms of revived self-belief.

Keywords · London 2012 · Coe · Tony Blair · Singapore

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