Jeremy Browne MP writes… The Olympic Games are just 200 days away.

In London and across the country, preparations are reaching fever pitch. As Minister for the Olympics in the Foreign Office, I have been involved in the planning and preparation since May 2010. While many people are excited about the torch relay across the country and the huge variety of sporting events, the Olympics also offer a fantastic opportunity for us to showcase our country.

It has been 64 years since the Games was last held in the UK. In 1948, fifty-nine nations attended. This year, over two hundred teams will be representing their countries. This is an opportunity for Britain to introduce itself to all of those athletes, spectators and billions of fans watching on TV.

We want to showcase the UK, not only as a country to visit for the Games but also as a place to do business, study and invest. The companies, students and tourists attracted to Britain will provide vital and lasting benefit to our economy.

The Olympics are also an incredible diplomatic opportunity. Since the successful bid, the Foreign Office has been actively engaged across the globe. We have provided support to help teams from the poorest countries attend the Games. Foreign Office staff have held a vast range of events and activities. Everything from a sports day in Kigali with the Rwandan Paralympics team to the “100 to London” at the British Embassy in Colombia, highlighting the country’s plans to send its largest ever delegation of (100) athletes to the Olympics. I have even received a fast-walking lesson with the Ecuadorean Olympic Gold medalist Jefferson Perez!

The Games themselves will also provide a huge diplomatic opportunity. Think of a G20 Summit but on a much bigger scale. The most influential political and business leaders in the world will be flocking to our country and we have ambitious plans for them to maximise the lasting benefits for Britain.

The Olympics and Paralympics may take place for a few weeks this summer but through our work here at home and abroad, the legacy will be felt for years to come. A legacy of sporting participation and urban regeneration, but also a commercial, reputational, diplomatic and values based legacy.

The world will be watching us and they will see the best Games yet.

* Jeremy Browne is the MP for Taunton Deane, and was previously a minister in both the Home and Foreign offices.

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12 Comments

  • Everything about this ridiculous waste of money is going to be awful. At least it’ll soon be over.

  • My advice – leave the country

  • David from Ealing 9th Jan '12 - 10:06pm

    I think it was a mistake to bid for the Games, but I suppose we now have to make the best of it.

  • Simon Bamonte 9th Jan '12 - 11:13pm

    Sorry, have I missed something? Are there some games or competitions happening next year? You mean to tell me there are some actual games happening in between messages from hundreds of “official partners” and “brand ambassadors”?!

    Silly me, thinking this summer’s festival was all about corporate moneygrubbing, special lanes for foreign dignitaries and protests being banned!

  • “This is an opportunity for Britain to introduce itself to all of those athletes, spectators and billions of fans watching on TV.”

    Who knows? Most of them may already have heard something about Britain, and they may have more sense than to modify their opinions radically on the basis of our management of a sporting event.

  • I have even received a fast-walking lesson with the Ecuadorean Olympic Gold medalist Jefferson Perez!

    Shame Liam Fox isn’t still around, he could have really benefited from a fast walking lesson last year.

  • Richard Swales 10th Jan '12 - 10:12am

    Only suitable for countries like the People’s Republic of China or Blair’s Britain. Too late to cancel now though.

  • “While many people are excited about the torch relay across the country and the huge variety of sporting events” the rest of us don’t care and would rather the money go to something more worthwhile like the NHS or education.

  • So that’s, what, 217 days til it’s over?

    *starts counting*

  • What a relief to see my own cynicism reflected so clearly in these responses!

  • ” …preparations are reaching fever pitch.”

    Jeremy Browne is obviously keen to share his enthusiasm after a recent ride on the train to the Olympics site with the Prime Minister.
    Yes, we know he’s on the inside track; but this reads more like a press release from London 2012 and should be taken with a hefty pinch of salt – hefty enough to cure the Minister’s fever.

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