Olympics offer sport, history, culture

In 100 days' time the 2012 Olympics will open in London — a spectacular start to the greatest show on Earth. We want to share these fantastic Olympic and Paralympic Games with the people of Florida. That's why my message today is "Welcome."

This will be a proud moment for Britain. We will not only be staging what we're determined will be the best Olympics ever, but also celebrating the 60-year reign of Her Majesty the Queen — the second-longest-serving monarch on the planet. It's a very special time for our country.

What will London 2012 offer?

As the only city to be awarded the Olympics three times, we'll be holding the Games in a great tradition. The modern Olympics came of age in 1908 in London. The route of the marathon — 26 miles, 385 yards — was set so that the race would start at Windsor Castle and finish in front of the stadium's Royal Box, and is the distance used worldwide ever since.

In 1948, the Games took place in the shadow of a devastating World War. Yet London brought countries together to celebrate the Olympic ideals of friendship and international community. More than that, they created new opportunities for women in sport, pioneered the Olympic volunteering movement, and laid the foundations for the modern Paralympic Games.

My view is that these Games are about two things: sport and legacy.

Sport will be the heart of this great competition. We will see world records broken, memories created and new friendships begun during the Games themselves.

Florida-based athletes are now competing to be part of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams: five-time Olympian Dara Torres in swimming; Dwayne Wade, LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwight Howard in basketball; and Rob Jones and Oksana Masters in Paralympic rowing to name but a few.

But when the events are over and the medals handed out, I am determined that these Olympics will deliver a legacy.

This summer you'll find a whole new quarter of London around the Olympic Park, in the east of the city. It's been a powerhouse of regeneration, and when the Games are over it will be the site of new homes, business and jobs.

We've led the way with new methods of design and construction, using low-carbon technologies to make London 2012 the first truly sustainable Games. Tampa-based companies have been integral to this. Prime examples include construction firms like Atkins, which developed the official Games site, and Nielsen, a media company, which has been researching British public opinion toward the Olympic Games. This research has had significant influence on the design and delivery of the Games.

By investing in new sporting facilities and establishing a new "School Games" competition in schools all around the United Kingdom, we're inspiring new generations of young people to experience the joys and benefits of sport.

But the legacy of London 2012 is not limited to the Britain. The International Inspiration program is creating opportunities for more than 12 million people in 20 countries around the world.

So I want these Games to be about more than just welcoming athletes to London for a single summer. We want to build new and lasting links between Florida and Britain like the award of a prestigious Marshall's scholarship to Jean Weatherwax of USF in Tampa in 2011. I want to see more students like Jean find out about a country that has four of the top 10 universities in the world, and more than 75 Nobel prizes for science and technology alone. Equally, if you are an entrepreneur or investor, London 2012 is a chance to discover new opportunities in a country which has the fewest barriers to entrepreneurship in the world.

I encourage Floridians to exchange your summertime heat for long British midsummer sporting nights. It is a chance to experience Britain's unique blend of the old and the new — the history and heritage of our castles, landscapes and royal houses alongside the cutting-edge culture of our music and art, our theater and fashion.

Great sport. Great business. Great culture.

Hosting the London 2012 Games is a tremendous honor. We want to make it a great moment for Britain, and we are looking forward to welcoming Floridians and the world to be part of it.

David Cameron is prime minister of the United Kingdom.

Olympics offer sport, history, culture 04/17/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 17, 2012 6:13pm]

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