Boris Johnson confirmed (almost) that he would be running for London Mayor again in 2012 at last night’s reception at City Hall for the SJA, where he disguised any disquiet over the 2012 Olympic mascots and affirmed his support for sport, IAN COLE reports
“These two could be the Cameron and Clegg of the Olympics,” Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, quipped as he watched last night’s unveiling of 2012 Games mascots Wenlock and Mandeville.
Johnson was standing in front of a television screen in his City Hall office high above the Thames, surrounded by SJA members for whom he was hosting an informal reception.
The event was the latest step in the SJA’s commitment to being involved in the London Games and came from a meeting in Beijing between SJA Chairman Barry Newcombe and the Mayor.
Johnson is clearly excited by the approach of the Games and its impact on his city. His aides include Kate Hoey, the former Labour Minister for Sport, who was among our gathering and whose grass roots programme for kids in the capital brought gushing praise from the Mayor.
“Kate is doing an enormous amount in kicking in grass roots support. We’re launching a new boxing academy and there are more swimming pools. We are moving these incredible swimming pools around London like glorified sheep dips for London kids. Very warm, loads of chlorine.
“The incredible popularity I think the Games will have in spite of the recession and in spite of the fact people are starting to really worry about the cost leaves us really buoyed up. We are determined here in City Hall to make the most we can of sport in every way.
“The whole area north of Greenwich is going to be transformed by sport and that will be fantastic for east London, with 8,000 homes built on that site, the Stratford rail link, the Westfield shopping centre…
“We think London should get loads of other things as well and we are working full time on trying to attract major sporting events. We have absolutely no shame in doing so. It is the right thing for the country and the right thing for the city,” Johnson said.
Mayor Johnson was asked for his view of England’s 2018 World Cup bid in the wake of the Mail on Sunday’s expose involving FA chairman Lord Triesman. He replied: “In spite of that story and the resignation it has triggered I think the case for England is so strong. We have the venues, we have this fantastic Olympic stadium and we have the greatest city to welcome the world to.
“But you have to do this in a non-boastful way. You can’t win this thing by boasting and bragging about our role in the history of sport.”
He then referred to the resignation of Gary Lineker as a columnist with the Mail on Sunday over the running of the Triesman story. Johnson reminded us that he was an occasional book reviewer for that newspaper but confessed: “I’m not as pure as Gary and I don’t think the Mail on Sunday would be at all bothered if I said I’d never write another.”
Then SJA member Neil Wilson asked whether the Mayor thought he would be handing over the Olympic flag to the Mayor of Rio at the end of the London Games. Johnson, whose term of office expires just two months before the Games, replied: “I think you are really asking me if I’m going to stand for re-election. Look, this is a fantastic job, the best in the world. Well you would want to continue, wouldn’t you? I suppose I’ll have to make some sort of announcement at some time.”
To which Wilson responded: “I think you just have.”
Photographs of the City Hall reception (top of Mayor Johnson with SJA Chairman Barry Newcombe) by Peter Savage/HockeyImages.co.uk