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London 2012 Olympics

(July 27, 2012)

Olympics

As one billion people prepare to watch the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games, what must the 542 members of Team GB be thinking? Pride, passion and inspiration is my overwhelming emotion as the curtain raiser nears.

Over the next few weeks, our families will be inspired by stories of triumph, adversity and heartache. Britain will win Gold, Silver and Bronze but the impact that these few weeks will have on us all, is not yet calculable.

It’s easy to over simplify what London 2012 means. Some say it’s just a glorified regeneration of the East End of London. Others say it will have no benefit on anyone living outside of the M25. Most say it is a once in a lifetime opportunity to be proud of Britain.

Jeremy Hunt said today that Britain is, by nature, a modest country. He is right. We don’t claim to be the “leaders of the free world” or any other fallacious titles. But we are a brilliant nation.

I was struck earlier today when I caught an interview on Sky News with a young Indian man sitting on a bench near Tower Bridge. Kay Burley interviewed him and asked him what he was looking forward to. The young man was clearly very emotional. He explained that he loved London so much that he chose to emmigrate to the city in 2010. He said that in history lessons as a child in India, they were taught of the British Empire. “Today” he said, “The British Empire lives on and this country deserves to host the world.”

I couldn’t agree with him more. Tonight we can showcase the best of our country. The culture and the Arts which lead the world but also the design of our stadia, the brilliance of our construction industry to deliver a Games on time and on budget – the first in history to do so –and everything else that comprises Great Britain; our NHS, our Armed Forces and our bulldog spirit.

So even if you never wanted the Olympics. Even if you felt some mild satisfaction at the news that the security arrangements were not quite as smooth as we first thought or if you're on a flight out of Britain in the morning, tonight, just think, this will never ever happen again in our lifetimes. We will tell our grandchildren about that Friday night in Stratford when Britain made its mark on the world forever. And who knows, you might even find yourself proud to be British, like me.

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