The London Olympics has been a project with cross-party support right from the outset. Hugh Robertson went to Singapore as part of the bid team in 2005, carrying with him an endorsement from Michael Howard. This was critical to the success of the bid, because the International Olympic Committee needed to know that any decision to choose London would survive a change of government. Seb Coe was more responsible for the success of the bid than any other single person except perhaps Tony Blair, who deserves credit for personally flying to Singapore to lobby IOC delegates.
So this is not a project from which any party should try to derive political advantage. Like the Royal Wedding and Diamond Jubilee that precede it, it will be a national occasion. Latest figures suggest a quarter of UK adults want to go (three quarters of which are from outside London), making it comfortably the biggest sporting event in our history.
It will also be the first time in our history we have staged an event watched live by more than half the world's population – an extraordinary opportunity to show the world Britain at its best. So I have given the tourist industry the challenge of producing the best ever marketing campaign for the UK – and they have risen to it by doubling the amount of money the government puts into tourism marketing with the ambition of getting an additional 2 million foreign visitors to come to the UK post 2012. At the same time, there will be an massive economic boost to East London. What used to be the dumping ground for the capital's waste, with 75% of the land contaminated with tar, petrol, oil and arsenic, will be transformed into East London Tech City which has already secured commitment to invest by companies like Cisco, Google, Vodafone, Facebook and Intel.
I also want to make sure we have a proper sporting legacy. Michael Gove and I are jointly funding the School Games, an Olympic-style competition that will bring competitive sport within the reach of thousands more children. The School Games will happen in every town and every city in the country, encouraging schools to do m ore competitive sport not just on sports days but throughout the year. They will start in 2012, but will only be successful if they continue in 2013, 2014 and beyond – a sporting legacy that will transform opportunities for many young people.
Most of all we should remember 2012 is not about politicians but about our Olympic and Paralympic athletes. I remember visiting Tom Daley doing his training in Plymouth last year. He trains 10 times a week for up to 6 hours a day – all for a moment that will last less than 2 seconds. The discipline, commitment and effort he is demonstrating will inspire many young people with the values we all support – as well as giving them a once in lifetime opportunity to celebrate the amazing achievement that London 2012 will represent for the country.