Prime Minister David Cameron’s speech to the Olympic reception, held at Number 10 Downing Street, on Wednesday 28 March 2012. Check against delivery
Your Royal Highness, ladies and gentlemen, a very warm welcome to Number 10 Downing Street. It gives me huge pleasure to welcome everyone to Number 10 Downing Street. This is a very important day because this is the last of the visits by the International Olympic Committee to come to see how London is getting on for 2012. Jacques Rogge and his team, and Philip Craven and his team are hugely welcome to come and see what London is doing to put on the Olympics. I think there are some very simple things that I want to say in welcoming you all.
The first is that London really is ready. I’m very proud of all the work that’s been done by the Organising Committee, by the ODA, by the government, by everyone who has worked on this enormous project. I’m really proud of the fact that often when you get this close to a Games, you have a Prime Minister sort of saying, ‘Well, I’m sorry it’s not quite finished’ and ‘I’m sorry this is happening’ or ‘I’m sorry that’s happening’. I’m proud to be able to say it really is on time, on budget - plenty more things to do, but I think we’re in very good shape. So that is the first message: welcome to London, it’s going to be a great Games.
I think the second thing I want to say is: now we’re into the moment where we really need to spread the message out around the country to make sure that everyone gets as pumped up and excited about these Games as I know I am and as I know all the athletes are that are going to take part. I think it’s absolutely vital that this is an Olympic Games for the whole of the United Kingdom. And there are people here from all sorts of different parts of the United Kingdom, and many who are celebrating the events that they’ve put on in their cities, in their towns and their villages, to make sure that everyone gets a benefit from the Olympics. So, I think we really have to get into spreading the word.
The third thing I wanted to say is just how important we see this issue of legacy. Of course, the number one thing we have to do is put on an absolutely fabulous Games, to make sure those three weeks are the most safe and secure, but also the most thrilling and entertaining. But really, when you think of all the money that we’ve put into the Olympic Games, the most important thing beyond that is that we secure a really lasting legacy.
People sometimes say, ‘Well, what exactly do you mean by legacy?’ Well, it’s not just the physical legacy of great stadia that are going to have fantastic uses for the future. It’s not just the legacy of the thousands of jobs that have been created in building these stadia and supplying them with heat, light and all of that. It’s actually a less tangible legacy but just as powerful. Because sport, and the Olympics in particular, has a unique ability to touch people’s lives and to change the way they think about themselves and their futures. And I think that is the most important part of the legacy I want us to secure - that school children up and down the country think about taking part in sport; that people who never thought about volunteering think about volunteering as so many volunteers are for the Olympic games - and it’s great to welcome you all here; and that people have a sense that just as when you watch Kelly Holmes, Seb Coe or Chris Hoy or whoever, you think, ‘I can achieve to my utmost. I can do my best. I can follow my star as far as it can possibly take me.’ And I think it’s those parts of the legacy that I think we can really maximise in these Games.
It’s a very exciting time for the United Kingdom. We have the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee - 60 years of service on the throne - and it’s wonderful that the Princess Royal is here today. We have these great Olympic Games that are in fantastic shape. So, I wish the IOC very well in your two days of visits. Please don’t hold back asking any of the tough questions, any of the difficult issues. We want to leave no stone unturned, no detail untouched in terms of doing everything we can to make these games the biggest possible success. We had very good meetings downstairs earlier today touching on some of the big issues, but please don’t hold back; tell us anything you’re worried about and we will try to fix it so that we can have an absolutely magnificent Games.
But above all, to all of you, a very warm welcome. Please now go out and spread the message. Let’s get the whole country absolutely pumped up for these games so that we get the biggest possible celebration, the biggest possible participation and the greatest possible legacy. Thank you very much indeed.