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Don't promise what you can't deliver

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Adrian Warner | 16:45 UK time, Monday, 27 June 2011

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It was a great idea during the bid, promising babies born on the 20/12/2004 a "major role" at the Olympics. Good soundbite, good headline.

It fitted in perfectly with the bid's pledge to make the 2012 Olympics the Games for the next generation.

But as we get closer to the opening ceremony, that promise appears to be being watered down.

When the 2004 babies celebrated their first birthday, London 2012 said they would play a role in the "opening ceremonies, closing ceremonies, team welcome ceremonies or a wide range of events that will light up London's parks, squares and cultural venues across the capital."

That's what the press release said anyway.

Former Olympic champion and 2012 ambassador Denise Lewis appeared at a cute photocall with the babies.

The former heptathlete talked about how it would be great to use hundreds of them at the opening ceremony because you needed loads of kids and it was a great way to pick them.

Now, I'm a great fan of Denise, especially after I travelled with her to India 18 months ago where she was a brilliant ambassador for 2012's campaign to get more children into sport.

It must be embarrassing for her now that 2012 have told the mothers of the babies in April that they won't be involved in the ceremonies at all.

Olympic officials say they will now appear at events around the country linked to the torch relay.

The mothers say they are disappointed and have now started up a petition to get the children, now six and a half, into the opening ceremony.

We arranged a picnic for some of the them on the edge of the Olympic Park last week.

Many of the mums are angry that their children have been treated like this. As one said: "If you make a promise to a child, you have to keep it."

2012 officials say they were never promised the ceremonies for definite and deny that they have gone back on what they called the "Children's Promise."

I'm not so sure they can get away with that argument. It's true that they wrote a clause clearly in the paperwork.

The promise certificate to each child said: "to play a role in the ceremonies or events scheduled to take place as part of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games in 2012."

But, when you are talking to children, you have to be extra careful what you promise.

I've had to in recent weeks over Olympic tickets.

I never promised my children the 100 metres final because I knew I couldn't necessarily deliver it. And, of course, I couldn't.

Maybe 2012 should learn that lesson.

Twitter: @BBCLdnOlympics

London 2012


  • Comment number 1.

    Should be very easy to do it, have them involved in some local public event on the Opening Ceremony day, talk to local councils, sports centres etc Surely that would be easy to organise? It's not like they have to give them tickets to the Olympics themselves.

    'I never promised my children the 100 metres final because I knew I couldn't necessarily deliver it. And, of course, I couldn't.'

    Well done. I've seen so many people on BBC Blogs and Facebook bemoaning the fact they had to tell their kids they hadn't got tickets after all. Idiots!

  • Comment number 2.

    I never promised my children the 100 metres final because...I didn't want them to waste time seeing an elite group of overpaid athletes add to their millions by dragging in even more cash-rich sponsorship deals for doing bugger all. Give me the much belittled 'fringe' sports any day!

  • Comment number 3.

    This explains a lot! I have emailed and written to the Olympic Committee about my grandsons. They are identical millenium twins whose 12th birthday is on 27th July 2012. They are very sporty - rugby, judo, cycling and swimming. I asked several years ago if the Committee might be interested in them and got a reply saying only children born in 2004 were being considered. I was perplexed but now I have the answer! I have tried to get tickets for the opening ceremony without success and would still love for them to be some way involved - any ideas?

  • Comment number 4.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 5.

    I'm a parent of one of these children. Communication with LOCOG has been pretty dismal. In 2008 at the Children's Promise Birthday party in London, Seb Coe said that the children's role would be communicated soon. In Feb this year when ticketing ballot was announced I sent an email to LOCOG to request information on the role . After a few follow ups received a placeholder in March saying they're considering what role to give the kids.. received an email 4 weeks later (mid April) to say it was likely to be a regional event, and finally confirming that it was to be the torch-relay event (5 days before ticket ballot closed) and that this "will be the most convenient for the families". So much for inspiration and "a once in a lifetime opportunity". One wonders who its most convenient for. Perhaps it needs to be renamed the London 2012 children's compromise.

  • Comment number 6.

    Frankly the Olympic powers that be, are just storing up a world of pain for themselves.
    Especially from Londoners, and particularly from those that live around the Olympic Park and environs.
    They were promised work opportunities which came to nothing.
    Tickets ? Fat Chance
    Children's participation? Evidently not
    And they have had to pay extra council tax to fund it.
    I don't think the Olympic people could have demotivated or antagonised people more if they had tried.
    Absolute PR disaster and disgraceful behaviour.

  • Comment number 7.

    They've alienated more than half the public interested in sport. Now they're going back on a promise they made to kids? What are they doing at the Opening Ceremony, kicking some puppies?

  • Comment number 8.

    Its like giving a candy to a baby and asking it not to eat? Whats the point in having the candies in hand when the babies could not enjoy it actually? It should change someday... jai[Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 9.


    Uruguay beat Peru in one semi final on Tuesday night but look at the BBC site and you wouldn't even know the tournament was taking place.

    If you want to know how Dumbarton got on in their friendly with Partick Thistle - no worries. Uruguay/Peru, from the continent that brought us Pele, Maradona, Alfredo de Stefano, Lionel Messi? Look elsewhere because you'll find nothing here!

    (Dumbarton beat Thistle 4-1)



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