Boris fails to convince as he tries a bid for the sporting vote

There must be votes in sport.

This morning, we received this press release, written and paid for by Council Tax-payers’ money at City Hall, issued on behalf of the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson.

Boris's self-promoting press release gives Inside Croydon an excuse to run a gratuitous photograph of the awesome Wales wing, George North. Guto Hari will be pleased

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson today declared London the home of sport as he attended the home of rugby at Twickenham for the six nations clash between England and Wales.

The Mayor will join thousands of fans for the sell out fixture and one of the biggest matches in the rugby calendar to cheer on England. The match concludes a great month for sport in the capital and follows on the back of the hugely successful cycling and diving test events at the Velodrome and the Aquatics Centre in the Olympic Park over the last week when the world witnessed the enormous appetite there is in London for top class sport.

The test events mark the beginning of a momentous decade for major sporting events coming to the capital. Ahead of the curtain rising on the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games in July the world can look forward to some of the classic and world famous sporting championships and challenges being hosted in the capital.

April sees the historic boat race on the river Thames between Oxford and Cambridge Universities followed by The London Marathon. May marks the end of the British football season with the FA Cup Final at Wembley and in June the world’s finest sports men and women begin arriving in London for the Summer Games, the Queen’s Tennis Championships and the greatest tennis tournament on the planet at Wimbledon. London also gets a taste of top flight American football as the hugely popular NFL football league returns to Wembley in the autumn.

2012 is just the beginning for London as it firmly establishes itself as the home of sport. Just a year after the Games the doors of the Olympic Park will once again be thrown open to welcome the world to the Mayor’s world class two-day Festival of Cycling. Two years later, Twickenham will be one of the key stadiums for the 2015 Rugby World Cup and then the Olympic Stadium is set to host the 2017 World Athletics Championships when the world’s finest track and field athletes return to the capital.

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: “London already has a wonderful sporting history, from the first time the Boat Race came to Putney in 1836 right up to the now-traditional sights of sports fans cheering on our heroes on Wimbledon’s Henman Hill.

“And looking to the future, with top flight competitions bringing athletes from around the globe to the capital for years to come, it’s impossible to think of another city that could beat London to the title of the world’s official home of sport.

“These competitions not only cement for the capital a major legacy of jobs, investment, and international tourism, they are an inspiration for young Londoners to get involved and take on the world in a huge variety of sports.”

What do we learn from this?

  1. That Boris has scored a freebie VIP ticket , or tickets?, for possibly the most anticipated game of rugby to be staged in these islands until 2015. Tickets for the England v Wales game have been trading between the Hoorays and City boys this week for upto 600 quid a piece. And they won’t necessarily be in the posh seats where Boris, and  guest?, will get the full prawn sandwich treatment. Let’s hope Boris’s ticket(s) are all duly declared in the London Assembly’s register of interests.
  2. Boris seems to want to lay some claim to the University Boat Race. BoJo was never a member of Oxford University Boat Club: it is pretty well-known that Boris’s most notorious club membership when a student was in the dinner-suited Bullingdon Club.
  3. Boris really knows stuff all about sport (he demonstrated that when he appointed Kate Hoey as his capital sport Czarina), beyond what he is told. For instance, taking place today, free of charge in the heart of the capital is the national cross-country championships, with thousands of runners galloping around the gruelling course provided at Parliament Hill Fields. The event requires considerable input from London. But not a whisper of it in Boris’s press release.
  4. Likewise, Johnson’s professed passion for the Olympic Games, which the previous Mayor, Ken Livingstone, played a major role in bringing back to London. Thus far, Mayor Johnson’s most telling contribution to London’s Olympic status was to offend the hosts in Beijing in 2008 with his jokey references to “whiff waff” and for taking to the stage at the last Closing Ceremony for the solemn Olympic flag handover looking overly casual and with his hands in his pockets.
  5. While committed to the spend, some time in the company of Lord “Seb” Coe and a few free sports tickets have helped Johnson come to appreciate the regenerative impact that spending £9.3 billion of public money on a deprived area of our capital can have, and how this could help drive business throughout the south-east. The East London Line into the City and north London from West Croydon – another project instigated under the previous Mayor of London – is one concrete (and steel) example of the benefits for Croydon. It is a shame that Croydon Council appears to have adopted the Ostrich position as far as the London Olympics are concerned, spurning the opportunities it presents.
  6. Of all the great international events cited in Boris’s gushing London sports press release, his office has only been directly involved in securing two of them since his election in 2008: the 2017 athletics world championships and the continued annual NFL game at Wembley. Both, though, were what are known (in golfing parlance) as “gimmes”. If Boris does not understand what that means, we’re sure that his ever-present aide, Guto Hari, will explain it to him.

And if Guto’s at Twickenham this afternoon, whose side will he be on, Boris?

  • Inside Croydon: brought to you from the heart of the borough, free of charge, an independent voice standing for freedom of speech for the people of Croydon

About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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