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1948 Olympians and 2012 hopefuls join Beijing heroes as Olympic and Paralympic flags raised at City Hall
Olympic and Paralympic flags have been raised outside City Hall in a public event to formally mark London becoming host city for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Beijing Gold medallist Christine Ohuruogu raised the Olympic flag, whilst women's arm only single scull Paralympic gold medallist Helene Raynsford joined Chris Holmes MBE, one of Britain's most successful Paralympic swimmers, for the Paralympic flag.
The Mayor of London, Lord Coe and Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell spoke at the event, which was attended by 1948 Olympians, 2012 hopefuls, children from the nearby Tower Bridge Primary School, London Assembly Members, borough leaders and community leaders.
Boris Johnson said: 'Raising the flags together at City Hall marks a historic moment for London, following the return of all our athletes who performed so brilliantly at the Beijing Games. The flags signal our dedication and commitment to ensuring that the London Games in 2012 will be a sporting feast open to everyone.'
Christine Ohuruogu said: 'As a Londoner it is a great honour to be involved in such an exciting occasion for our city. The Olympic Games are such an unique event, which only a small number of people have the chance to experience, when they come to London in 2012 we will all have that chance.'
Chris Holmes MBE said: 'I'm honoured to have been asked to raise the Paralympic flag over London. The London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games have the potential to change our communities and our Country for the better forever. The raising of the Olympic and Paralympic flags over our city marks the next stage in this most fantastic journey.'
'The Paralympic legacy has the potential to revolutionise the lives of disabled people, increasing employment opportunities, access to services and quite simply affording every person, regardless of ability or disability, the opportunity to play their part in our Nation's future.
The flag raising ceremony took place with Tower Bridge as a backdrop and large banners revealing the London 2012 emblem were unfurled from the bridge at the end of the ceremony.
Lord Coe said: 'This is a very special moment for London, and we hope Londoners and everyone around the UK share our pride. We have been talking about the power and magic of the Olympic and Paralympic Games for some time – but the fantastic six weeks of sport we have just seen in Beijing has shown once and for all that the Games has the power to inspire and change lives. Our vision is to use the power of the Games to inspire change in this country and our teams have returned from Beijing with a driving passion to achieve this and deliver a truly memorable Games that leaves a lasting legacy for our capital city and our country.'
Tessa Jowell said: 'The Olympic and Paralympic flags symbolise the highest ideals of sportsmanship and fair play and it is with great pride that we can raise them in our own capital city. But the flags also signify our big ambitions for 2012 – both in London and throughout the whole UK.
'I am determined to ensure that our Games will be remembered not only for the regeneration of the East End of London, but also for new world-class sports facilities, a legacy of improved elite performance and increased grassroots participation.
'Team GB and Paralympics GB have done us proud in Beijing, adding to the immense excitement as we continue full steam ahead with preparations for London 2012. Now the spotlight is on us and I am confident that we are in good shape to meet the challenges ahead.'
Jennette Arnold AM - Chair of the London Assembly, who spoke afterwards at a reception alongside the Mayor, said: It has been a half-century since London last hosted the Olympics and since Britain laid the foundations of Paralympic sport at the first Stoke Mandeville Games. Now we have just three years ten months and one day more to wait until our opening ceremony.
For all the vital regeneration the 2012 Games will bring to East London, for all the sports facilities and new infrastructure the games will deliver – it is those moments of rapture and the power of human endeavour that make the Olympic and Paralympic Games an unparalleled sporting event.'
Notes to Editors
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