ORGANISERS behind the Tokyo 2020 Olympics have visited Coventry to learn about the city’s successful role in staging one of the biggest sporting events on earth.
Lord Mayor of Coventry Lindsley Harvard and Dave Moorcroft were some of the names who met with Japanese representatives from Chiba, one of Japan’s host cities in 2020.
Two delegates from the Chiba Prefectural Board of Education, Mr Takashi Mitsuhashi and Miss Takako Nihira visited Coventry to learn more about the city’s award-winning Coventry Ambassador programme, and to understand the impact of Coventry’s achievements in inspiring different generations to have their own Olympic moment.
The delegates visited the Ricoh Arena, one of five UK wide venues to host Olympic Football during London 2012, with 12 football matches that attracted more than 170,000 visitors.
In excess of 300 Coventry Ambassadors welcomed the world during Games time and over 13,500 children engaged in the Festival of Sport and Sportivate projects.
More than 40,000 people also lined the streets of Warwickshire for the Olympic Torch Relay, while 95 businesses in the local area secured contracts worth £30 million, including Premier Group who made over 9,000 Olympic and Paralympic torches.
Chiba is now looking to follow in Coventry and Warwickshire’s footsteps when the city’s Makuhari Messe Convention Centre hosts taekwondo, fencing, wrestling and windsurfing in three years’ time.
“I was delighted to welcome representatives from Chiba to our city, and to share our experience of being a host city,” said the Lord Mayor of Coventry, Cllr Lindsley Harvard.
“Welcoming athletes and visitors from around the world is one that will stay with our city forever.
“One of the great successes of 2012 for Coventry was the wonderful Ambassadors scheme – they were the friendly, welcoming face of Coventry throughout the Games – and they have gone on to help us in every major event since.
“They helped visitors get the most out of their trip to Coventry, and gave a wonderful first impression of our city that made people want to return. I wish Chiba good luck as they prepare to play their part in Tokyo 2020.”
Chiba’s delegates were given first-hand insight into the legacy of the Coventry Ambassador volunteer programme from a company called ENV – a community interest company, which manages and delivers a range of events training and volunteer programmes.
Since 2012, the Coventry Ambassadors have supported over 90 events and 30,000 volunteer hours and the scheme is also one of the only surviving host city ambassador programme outside of London.
David Boughey, Managing Director at ENV, said: “The legacy of the London 2012 Olympic Games well and truly lives on in the city of Coventry.
“During 2012 we had more than 300 Coventry Ambassadors who welcomed the world to our City and their drive and commitment has ensured almost 100 events since have run smoothly with a fantastic visitor experience.
“As part of the delegation visit, we also enabled some of the original Coventry Ambassadors to share their experiences with the delegates and how becoming involved with the Olympics has changed their lives.”
Tom Clift, who headed up Coventry and Warwickshire’s Olympic programme believes the visit was of great benefit for their visitors.
He added: “London 2012 was a unique moment in Coventry’s history and we’re proud that more than four years on, we can still share our skills and expertise to help other host cities in their quest to maximise the Games for their own communities.
“As part of Coventry’s ten year sports strategy, we’re delighted that the legacy of London 2012 lives on in Coventry, promoting sporting values and encouraging people to be physically active with projects such as Engage!, which has delivered various rugby programmes to 6,000 schoolchildren in the past year.”
ENV is continuing to recruit new volunteers as part of the Coventry Ambassador programme, if you would like to be involved, please visit www.env.uk.com/coventry-ambassadors for further information.