by John the Cabby.
That was a question put to many Londoners and a panel at the Royal Society of Art on Tuesday evening. The event was run and organised by the London Evening Standard in partnership with YouGov.
I have to say it is well documented that I personally have many concerns about the Olympics, mainly cost but also the lack of control the host nation has over the project. Well it wasn't long after the event was introduced by Veronica Wadley, Editor of the Evening Standard and Chaired by Anne McElvoy, before Tessa Jowell MP who happens to be the Olympic minister provided all the sceptics with enough ammunition to launch a mini war in Europe. Tessa Jowell should have done the decent thing months ago and admitted the original budget was just hot air. Andrew Gilligan tore to pieces Tessa Jowell's claim of 75p in every pound would be spent on regeneration, in fact Andrew went on to state he felt the Olympic movement was just a great big con trick ! Will Self cared more about sport in schools than Stratford and showed great concern at the lack of sporting facilities in London, however one of his biggest concerns was the fact that a massive shopping centre was to be built at Stratford !
The debate moved on to two individuals who both have taken part in sport, Kate Hoey MP Commissioner for sport for the Mayor of London spoke of her concerns of the sporting legacy, in fact I detected a difference of opinion here between herself and Tessa Jowell MP, this should concern us all considering they both belong to the Labour Party. However her role at City hall should enable her to influence the decision making process. Now last but certainly not least we came to Lord Coe who seemed to have a real grasp of the political situation by admitting the lack of investment in the past mixed with bad political judgement created a vacuum in the inner cities which in turn left a generation out of the sporting loop. He believed London was a third world city when ever athletic's was mentioned, the Olympics could change this.
We then came to question and answer session and yes I stood up asked could we not run the 100 and 200 metres down Regent street (wouldn't John Nash be proud), a ripple of laughter spread across the floor, but I was serious for it is London that is the greatest stadia in the world. But alas my idea fell on deaf ears and parts of the audience were more concerned with the use of Greenwich park for the equestrian events, yes the not in my back yard brigade surfaced. But the highlight of the evening came when Will Self questioned whether children could be galvanised by elite performances, well the mood of Lord Coe changed completely, I felt I was at a Olympic boxing match and Will self ending up on the end of a verbal pounding. Lord Coe asked the now brow beaten Will Self "where were you when playing fields in Enfeild were been closed, you was probably standing outside a theatre".
Well after this heated exchange the debate was brought to a close with a vote, a simply show of hands in favour of the Olympic games doing good for London. For a moment at I felt I was at a trade union meeting, a argument on the rostrum and then a vote by show of hands, but the one thing that I will remember is Lord Coe's passion, passion for sport but more importantly passion for young ordinary people. Lord Coe you got my Vote !