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We won't try to top Beijing - Coe

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Mihir Bose hears the thoughts of Lord Coe in Beijing

London 2012 chief Lord Coe has admitted that the current Olympics in Beijing will be the last Games of its scale.

Coe insists that London's priority will be delivering a lasting legacy and community provision for the future.

"We've never viewed these Games simply as 16 days of spectacular Olympic or Paralympic sport," he told BBC Sport.

"The International Olympic Committee themselves recognise that this is the last edition of a Games which is going to look and feel like this."

Speaking to BBC sports editor Mihir Bose, he explained: "We work very closely with the IOC on a daily and hourly basis - they have set the agenda on sustainable venues, with sport as a bridgehead into other things.

"We recognise that - although instinctively I think we'd have been drawn to it as well.

"It's a mistake to think that Games model themselves on previous Games. Every Games I've been to has been very different.

MIHIR BOSE BLOG
BBC sports editor Mihir Bose
"But we can be creative - we know that more people will probably come to London for the Games than to other cities.

"I think we can deliver a fantastic Olympic and Paralympic Games, but we can do great things in the city to drive other cultural values."

Olympics minister Tessa Jowell and London 2012 chief executive Paul Deighton recently said London "can match" Beijing's spectacular opening ceremony.

But while the 2012 stadium may not be on the same scale of the Bird's Nest, Coe is confident that it can play a central role in a lasting legacy for London.

"The stadium will be a very different concept [to Beijing] - we're talking about leaving a 25,000-seater all-purpose stadium, for which we've been discussing a number of anchor tenancies, as well as possibly an educational legacy, or even an entertainment legacy," he said.

Sydney's Olympic Stadium
Sydney's 2000 Olympic Stadium hosted the Rugby World Cup in 2003
"The days of just leaving 90,000-seater stadia - particularly in London, where you'd have two [with the new Wembley Stadium] - are over.

"You have to provide something for local communities to do more than simply press their noses up against."

The last few Olympic stadia are all still in use - with the Athens 2004 stadium hosting top-level football including the Champions League final in 2007, Sydney's Olympic Stadium from 2000 staging the Rugby World Cup in 2003 amongst other events, while Atlanta's stadium from 1996 was reconfigured to host Major League baseball.

The 2012 stadium's post-Games future has yet to be decided, although nearby Leyton Orient FC have been in negotiations about a move.

The strongest legacy we're witnessing at the moment is the performance of Team GB

Lord Coe
But as well as the physical legacy, Coe has pointed out that Britain's achievements in Beijing have also given the country a "fantastic platform" for success in four years' time.

"We've been looking at the legacy from the very moment our teams started looking at the master plans," he said.

"But the strongest legacy we're witnessing at the moment is the performance of Team GB.

"I've always felt the primary purpose of a medal is that it signifies a big British moment - and big British moments in sport have to have a conversion rate.

"For the Chris Hoys of this world, and our rowers and swimmers, the real challenge for our governing bodies and for sport more broadly is, how many people can you get into the sport off the back of that great moment?

"I'm a football fan, and we have to accept that it's our national sport - but I do think we can really elevate the status of some of our Olympic sports.

"The BBC have had some of their highest viewing figures, and a large chunk of the population are now very familiar with the faces of swimmers, cyclists and rowers in a way they weren't 10 years ago.

"We want fewer couch potatoes and more participants, but I also want full stadia."


see also
'No extra money' for London Games
19 Aug 08 |  UK Politics
Sponsors sought to plug 2012 gap
20 Aug 08 |  UK Politics
Hoy clinches historic third gold
19 Aug 08 |  Cycling
Success of 2012 Games 'doubted'
14 Aug 08 |  London
UK aims to fill all seats in 2012
11 Aug 08 |  UK Politics
London 2012 'can match Beijing'
08 Aug 08 |  UK News


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