Speech in Monte Carlo for Manchester Olympics

Mr President and Members of the IOC:

We are all here today in our different capacities because we care about the Olympic Games. We know it to be the greatest sporting festival in the world. You must decide where it will be and I wish to help you make that decision.

The Millennium Games will be a unique occasion, a time of hope, optimism, the beginning of a new century, a time for looking forward, a time to bring together young people from every corner of the globe skilled in athletic achievements and striving every muscle to prove themselves the very best in the world and television will take that friendly competition before the largest sporting audience in history. I want you to see that unique occasion at that unique time in that unique city in my country, Manchester.

The city may be Manchester, one of our great cities but this is a British bid, not just the city but the whole country stands foursquare behind it. It has the full and utter support of the Government.

Twice in this century – in 1908 and 1948 – Britain has hosted the Games. Each time it did so at short notice to save the Games, otherwise they could not and would not have been held but my country has never been awarded the Games, never had the chance to plan for them but we hope to be able to have that chance at the turn of the century and why? Why do we want the Games in Great Britain in Manchester?

My country has a passion for sport and it is a passion I freely confess to you that I share. Past sporting events are planted indelibly in our minds. I can close my eyes now and see the White City when Chataway went thataway and beat the seemingly invincible Vladimir Kutz; I remember that incomparable Bob Beaman leap, the Fosbury Flop, all of it across a whole range of athletics memories could close our minds and bring back pictures of the past.

But it is not just the past; it is the anticipation of the future as well and anticipating future sporting events to me at least is one of the great pleasures of life. Scratch a Briton and you will find a sports lover. In my country, new sports are taking root, old sports are growing in popularity.

I believe that sporting endeavour represents much of the very best of life – the will to win, the determination to compete and to finish; it is about individual efforts and team excellence; it provides drama, romance, pathos and memories. In such an environment, the Olympic Games will thrive but to do so needs more than enthusiasm, much more than simply a love of sport.

Organising the Olympic Games is a truly massive undertaking. No-one doubts that Manchester can do that spectacularly well. It has the right communication links, the right international access, it can offer excellence in television and in communications. The sporting facilities already are superb and those still needed will be provided. Even as we speak, the construction of future Olympic facilities is under way.

Mr. President, I spent some time at the Barcelona Games. I went there to look and to learn. Barcelona was a success for the Olympic Movement and a success for Spain and I was happy to play a small part in that in helping athletes from the former Yugoslavia to compete in those Olympics. Today, I am delighted to support the IOC in its bid for observer status at the United Nations and in its efforts to secure an Olympic truce and I do so because I want the Olympic Movement and the Games to succeed, to go as it has done from strength to strength from year to year.

Sport binds together the best of friends and the worst of enemies but it binds them more securely than any other endeavour and the world should use that gift.

Mr. President, Members of the IOC, you have a difficult task. I for one don’t envy you for one second in the choice that you have to make. You have candidates of high quality each wishing to host the Games in the year 2000. To do will be an immense privilege and a very great responsibility. Whatever you decide today, we will readily accept and play our part in making the Games a success. I hope you will decide to have that success in Manchester. If you do, I can promise you that a very warm welcome awaits you and I am utterly confident that a great Games lie in store.

I am grateful to you for listening.