Page last updated at 10:32 GMT, Thursday, 21 August 2008 11:32 UK

Games chiefs 'unfazed by Beijing'

Boris Johnson in Beijing
The mayor of London will receive the Olympic flame on Sunday

Organisers of the 2012 London Olympics have not been intimidated by the dazzling Beijing Games, mayor Boris Johnson has said.

Mr Johnson was speaking ahead of the closing ceremony in Beijing, where London will formally receive the flame from China on Sunday.

He said the Games had "blown away" what he called "Olympo-sceptics".

"Olympo-sceptics are being rapidly converted," he said, adding that London was in "a ferment of excitement".

Mr Johnson said: "We have been dazzled, we have been impressed, we have been blown away by these Beijing Games, but we have not been intimidated."

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Boris Johnson in Beijing

He added that the Beijing Games and the performance of the British team had converted many people in the UK.

"I can tell you that the city is in a ferment of excitement about this.

"Olympo-sceptics are being rapidly converted and people who have never shown the slightest interest in a cycle race are hurling themselves at TV screens and yelling themselves hoarse with excitement."

He also said that London will honour the team with a parade on 16 October and made a dig at the Australians by saying he wanted to "commiserate most sincerely" with them.

'Wow' factor

Speaking about the 2012 legacy, he said organisers were making sure how without crossing the "9.3bn ceiling we can get lasting value for the colossal investment we are making in east London".

Mr Johnson also called upon investors to help regenerate the area.

"We are looking for ideas of how London's Olympic Park can become not just a great place to live, work and visit, but a place that retains a flavour of the extra-ordinary, a place with the 'wow' factor, a place of magic," he said.

The mayor, who will be taking the handover from Beijing on Sunday, said he has been in training for the ceremony, adding: "It will be a hugely proud moment for me."

He also "paid tribute" to the former mayor Ken Livingstone for securing the Games for London.




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