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“It’s about sport, stupid!” says Sebastian Coe

"The Olympics isn’t about creating 30,000 new homes. It’s not about cleaning rivers. Or about leaving sustainable communities behind. It’s about sport!"

Coe’s impassioned speech about the importance of keeping athletes at the centre of the Olympic event drew huge applause.

But Coe’s focus on the "sport" has a wider aim. The twice Olympic gold medallist wants the event to engage more young people in sport. "It’s a bridgehead," he says. "I want to connect the power of the Games to young people and get kids into sport. I want a conversion rate for every medal on that table."

It’s a slightly unusual tack – at a "business" summit, but with heads nodding around the room, it’s pretty clear that many people fear, like Coe, that political correctness: sustainabilty; legacy; community, is at risk of hijacking an event that should fundamentally be about the athletes.

Ultimately, the Games will be fantastic for British business, for tourism, for the east end, but Coe’s speech was a not-so-gentle reminder that the true purpose of the Olympics is to win medals.


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