It is six years since the UK first won the privilege to host the Games in Singapore, and it has been a remarkable journey since. Everything is on track. Construction of the major venues is complete, a year ahead of Games time. We are on budget, on time and set to deliver a great summer of sport and culture.
This is going to be a show to remember – and not just for the sport. Of course the Games are about sporting excellence and extraordinary personal triumphs. No-one knows this better than my friend Lord Coe whose remarkable achievements make him uniquely qualified to put athletes at the heart of planning for 2012. But they are also about so much more.
For me, the Olympic and Paralympic Games are about one word above all others: legacy – about the real difference they can make to people’s lives. That’s not just in the host city, or the host country, but around the world. This vision of an enduring legacy is woven into every aspect of the 2012 Games.
For example, East London has already been transformed before our eyes. Some of the greatest architects and engineers in their fields have designed sports venues that our communities and visitors will enjoy for years to come. And they have achieved this with a remarkable commitment to putting sustainability at the heart of the build, making London the first truly ‘green’ Games in history.
But legacy is also about inspiration – about giving young men and women hope and ambition. And through our International Inspiration programme we have used sport to reach out to over 12 million children in 17 countries across the world, from Azerbaijan to Zambia.
Finally, it is about bringing people together under the Olympic values of friendship, respect and excellence. Over 3.5 million tickets have already been sold. Thousands of people have signed up to volunteer. Hundreds more have been nominated to bear the Olympic flame as it travels the highlands, lowlands and islands on its 70 day journey across the nation.
And for the two months of Olympic and Paralympic sport next summer, in every home and on every radio and television, the Games will be shared and enjoyed by the world.
That’s why, as President Rogge invites the Caribbean’s athletes to Britain in 2012, and as your local athletes are training for glory on the track, I want to invite the people of the Eastern Caribbean to be a part of this momentous occasion too.
Today and for the next 12 months, we want to welcome the world to the UK to share in the Olympic and Paralympic experience and discover what makes Britain a great place to live, work, visit, invest and do business.
With 365 days to go, we are ready to host an outstanding Games that will live on in the difference it makes to millions of lives – and we want everyone to be part of it.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is playing a crucial part in telling the rest of the world what a great place the UK is to visit, do business and learn in the lead up to the Olympics and Paralympics. We are encouraging hundreds of thousands of visitors to find out about Games next year – it is going to be an incredible time in the UK and we are ready to welcome everybody. Events at our global network of posts are helping spread messages about the Games and I am pleased that there is so much going on to promote the Olympics.