Olympic teams to use Suffolk

SUFFOLK will definitely host Olympic teams if London's bid for the 2012 games is successful.That is the view of a leading councillor today following a meeting with a key member of the London 2012 bid team in Ipswich.

SUFFOLK will definitely host Olympic teams if London's bid for the 2012 games is successful.

That is the view of a leading councillor today following a meeting with a key member of the London 2012 bid team in Ipswich.

Kevan Lim, who is spearheading the county council's support for the bid, said: "There is no reason why teams won't come to Suffolk. Pre-training will definitely happen here because teams will need to acclimatise to the environment."

Mr Lim met with Jude Kelly, chairman of the arts, culture and education committee for the London 2012 bid, along with regional arts and sports bodies at Endeavour House, the county council's offices, yesterday.

It was a rare opportunity for such a wide range of organisations to discuss how the region can support the bid and benefit from the potential multi-million pound economic boom that would be generated by holding the Olympics.

There are plans to boost the development of arts and sports in schools on the back of the bid, hold cultural festivals at iconic locations around the county and encourage the growth of industry that would contribute to the games.

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There are also other "exciting" ideas on the table, which cannot be revealed at this stage.

Mrs Kelly said: "This region is expert at putting together community partnerships and that is something the Olympics needs. The Olympics is not just about sporting competition, but about building from scratch and encouraging the renaissance of the east of England.

"We have been talking about how Ipswich should be looking at its young people to be potential volunteers and thinking about the potential jobs, skills, media and construction that would be created from holding a world festival.

"We should be running towards something we have never done before."

The bid is reaching a critical stage, with the final document due to be handed in to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) next month.

It is thought the IOC will also hold a Mori poll to gauge the strength of public opinion before a team visits London in February next year.

One of the factors the IOC will take into consideration is how the country has embraced the bid and whether there are serious efforts to develop all aspects of sport, education and culture.

After the meeting yesterday, the Spin Off Dance Company, a group young dancers from Ipswich, performed in front of the consortium at Endeavour House. It was a symbol of what needs to be achieved on a much grander scale in the run-up to the games – the nurturing of talent and an exhibition of culture.

Mr Lim said: "These groups play a very big part. The intention is to build opportunities in schools for art and dance groups on the back of the bid."

Peter Thornton, director of external relations of the Arts Council England East, said: "It is about building aspiration and ambition in young people and nurturing talent.

"The east of England is the gateway to the world. If this bid is successful it will give us a major push towards improving communities and young people in this region.

A final vote by the IOC will take place in July next year. London is up against Paris, New York, Madrid and Moscow.

If you would like to show your support for the bid, you can use the online petition available at www.london2012.com.

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