With the successful 2012 London Olympics now in the books, London Mayor Boris Johnson and Lord Sebastian Coe (Chairman of the London Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games – LOCOG) sat down for a sort of victory lap to celebrate Great Britain’s two weeks on top of the athletic world.
While the echoes of the Closing Ceremonies faded and work crews began dismantling the stage setup inside the Olympic Stadium, Johnson and Coe’s final press conference looked back at the Games and ahead to what they’ll mean for the future of sports in both the UK and around the world.
Johnson expressed melancholy that the Games fortnight was over.
“I had a mad desire to snatch it all back,” Johnson said. “The sadness is there because it’s been a wonderful experience. But there was also massive relief because it’s been a prodigious effort by London and Londoners. I’m thankful it’s over, but in a good way.”
“We increased trade, tourism and investment. And we looked to build sports in Great Britain for future.”
Coe looked ahead to what London and Great Britain still need to do.
“If I were to suggest what message could be taken away from these Games, it would be that we must continue investing in sport in London and across Britain,” Coe said. “The theme of London 2012 was ‘Inspire a Generation,’ and I think we’ve done that. But we must invest in the support and infrastructure those young athletes need.”
Coe – a former Olympian Gold Medalist himself – called on athletics’ ability to improve lives across economic and racial lines.
“Investing in athletics is also one of the best ways to keep investing in diversity,” he said. “The world of sport is as diverse as you can get, from players to coachers to trainers.”
Coe made it clear that he doesn’t think it’s possible to spend too much on sports.
“We should be unashamed about our investment in sport and in the next generation of athletes,” he said. “You need structures in place for the demand we’ve created with these Games. You don’t achieve excellence on the cheap. You need the right people doing the right things at the right time with the right tools.”
“My memory extends to the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984,” Coe added. “But I’ll always remember Team GB’s Super Saturday, Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt alongside. Still, I’m more excited and relieved that we’ll see the conversion of those Medals and those moments into a new generation of young athletes.”
Johnson took a moment to comment on boasts made by the Australian Foreign Minister that London 2012 didn’t live up to Sydney’s Games.
“Anyone who’s here knows this has been a wonderful Olympic Games,” Johnson said. “We all learned form each other. We learned from Sydney. From Athens. From Beijing. So, we don’t want this to decline into an argument. So, let’s say the Sydney Games were the best ever – in 2000.”