Friday, July 20, 2007

Athletics legend outlines Olympic benefits

Olympic organiser Lord Coe was in the North East to visit our sports facilities ahead of the 2012 games in London. But how will the Olympics benefit the region?

DOUBLE Olympic champion Sebastian Coe experienced the North East’s enthusiasm for sport and its desire to share in the benefits of the world event first hand when he visited the region.

The athletics legend saw a wide cross-section of sports when he was given a guided tour around the Sunderland Aquatic Centre, Gateshead International Stadium and Glenn McCrory’s International School of Boxing in Newcastle.

The UK Olympic football tournament is coming to St James’ Park, but what other benefits can people in the area expect from the Games?

Lord Coe said: “An Olympic games coming into anybody’s country has a massive spin-off and I see the event as being a very big driver of potential in all our local communities, including the North East.

“The impact of the games in London will have an impact on participation rates both in sports, the culture of a community and businesses engagements right throughout the country, so I don’t see this as simply being a London games.”

He added: “I know the North East pretty well. I have spent a lot of my time competing here and I have good friends here and visit the region a lot.

“I believe the majority understand that an Olympic games coming to a country gives a massive opportunity to a community like the North East that really does understand what sport is about.

“I know there is a deep and abiding love of sport in the region and a recognition that sport is the real hidden social worker in so many challenged communities throughout the country.

“The London 2012 Games are truly a games for the whole nation. I am delighted to be in the North East to be able to hear more about the region’s priorities and plans to maximise the benefits of the Olympics.”

During his visit to Gateshead International Stadium yesterday Lord Coe unveiled North East England’s Regional Plan in the run up to the Olympics, outlining the hope for new business contracts, tourism and culture opportunities.

Organisers of North East England’s Regional Plan intend to co-ordinate a range of services to ensure regional businesses are fully equipped to “maximise the potential opportunities associated with the Games in order to win direct and indirect business”.

It is also hoped the Games will provide a showcase for the region’s sports facilities, attracting visiting teams to regional facilities.

“North East England’s Regional Plan will help build on the massive passion there is for sport in the region,” explained Lord Coe. “It outlines the eight key areas in which we believe the region can benefit from the London Games.

“Research has shown one in eight North East firms can potentially benefit by winning contracts to supply the 2012 Olympics.

“It is felt the Games can help people focus on healthier lives and address some of the child obesity and diabetes issues.”

Today scores of youngsters and adults sampled different sporting activities at the London 2012 Roadshow at Concordia Leisure Centre, in Cramlington, Northumberland.

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