London undaunted at following Beijing
BEIJING (Reuters) - London is undaunted at having to follow Beijing when it hosts the next Summer Olympics and Paralympics in 2012, according to chief organiser Sebastian Coe.
Coe said London had learned many important lessons from a Paralympics he said would be remembered for "wonderful elite sport, superb organisation, stunning venues and spectacular opening and closing ceremonies".
"It's a massive responsibility," the chairman of the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (LOCOG) told a news conference on the eve of the closing ceremony of the Paralympics.
"We don't find it daunting. I can only relate it to when I was sitting in a stadium when I was still a competitor watching an outstanding performance in my own event," added the twice Olympic champion middle distance runner.
"I didn't feel cowed by it, I went out and wanted to emulate it or even better it... Beijing has delivered a spectacular Games and we will also deliver a spectacular Games."
Coe said London had learned that the Games was not just about the timely delivery of infrastructure, however important that was, but also about legacy and where the emphasis of the organisation should lie.
"Athletes have to be at the centre of these championships, if you have athletes at the centre of the project, you have to deliver well in so many other function areas," he said.
"Secondly, the presentation of the sports to further and foster the understanding of those sports with one aim in mind to broaden the interest among young people in Olympic and Paralympic sport."
Coe said he had been impressed with the number of spectators at the venues for the Paralympic sports and said that Britain's long history of association with sport for the disabled should enable London to match Beijing in that too.
"We want to be able to deliver the same full stadiums in London," he said. "I think we have a very good chance of doing that given our own emotional attachment to the Paralympic movement.
Beijing's 30,000 Paralympic volunteers have also elicited much praise over the last 10 days but Coe pointed out that Britain was among the top three countries in the world when it came to "volunteerism".
"We can build on an extraordinarily successful volunteer programme," Coe said.
"The difference between a good and a great Games is often the quality of volunteers. They are the face of the Games."
(Editing by John O'Brien)
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