Modern-day economic, political and social challenges make Olympics values “more relevant than at any time before”, Sebastian Coe will say tomorrow.
Trying to make an impact on the younger generation, from all backgrounds, must be the key focus, the London 2012 chairman is to stress at the Olympic Flame lighting ceremony.
Speaking to sports and political dignitaries gathered in ancient Olympia and those watching around the world on television as the Olympic Flame is being lit, he will say: “We are also reminded this morning of sport’s enduring and universal appeal, and the timeless Olympic values that transcend history and geography; values which, I believe, in these challenging times are more relevant than at any time before and particularly to young people all over the world.
“In 1948, shortly after the Second World War, my predecessor stood where I am today and made the first tentative steps in turning the world from war to sport.
“We find ourselves in challenging times again and turn to sport once more to connect the world in a global celebration of achievement and inspiration.
“This morning’s ceremony reminds us of the core mission and responsibility of London 2012 – to inspire young people.”
He singled out 19-year-old east Londoner Alex Loukos, who was picked by London 2012 to be the second torchbearer to carry the Olympic Flame in Greece.
His father is from the Greek island of Lesbos, and he was born and brought up in Newham, in east London, where the Olympic Park is based.
Loukos is a keen boxer who used to coach local children before he became apprentice project manager in engineering.
He also represented the younger generation as one of the 30 east London schoolchildren who travelled to Singapore in 2005 as part of the closing presentations in London’s winning bid to host the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Lord Coe pledged that the London 2012 relay would be memorable for those who take part and watch.
It will carry a message of peace and friendship, plus the respect and goodwill of the people of the UK.
He will say: “We promise to protect the flame; to cherish its traditions and to stage an uplifting Torch Relay of which we can all be proud and which can inspire a generation.
“As torchbearers lift the Olympic Flame in the days and months ahead, it is our hope that they will also lift the spirits and hopes of people across Britain and across world.”