Britain’s ambassador in Sweden; putting out the hurdles at the 2012 Olympics?

13 jun 2011

This was the question posed to Andrew Mitchell, incumbent British Ambassador to Sweden, by his 9 year-old daughter when he told her about his next post as the Foreign Office’s head of the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

As an informal conclusion to the British Swedish Chamber of Commerce (BSCC) AGM (an organisation of which AVISON is an active member), Ambassador Mitchell jumped up on a chair and gave us an amusing and insightful presentation of his upcoming role in the lead-up to the 2012 Olympic Games.

As well as being the event that will see the most heads of state ever gathered in one place (an estimated 120-130, vs. 80 or so in Beijing in 2008), it is also the first ever Olympic Games to be held during a high-risk security alert, as is the case currently in Britain. So

 an essential part of Andrew Mitchell’s job, and ”what will keep the Prime Minister awake at night”, will be the security for the Games.

Interestingly, the 2012 Olympics, the first truly sustainable event of its kind, will be the largest logistical undertaking in peacetime Britain. Mitchell will have his hands full. His role will also involve the economic legacy that Britain takes with it after the event. The plan is that 70 pence of every pound spent will remain in use in the area (which is completely purpose-built, and despite Britain’s reputation for bad public transport, rumoured to be ready to cope with the logistics of it all!).

Ambassador Mitchell also mentioned the friendly rivalry between the Brits and the Aussies when it comes to winning medals at the games. Apparently 2 officials from the respective countries had arranged a bet as to who would win the most medals in 2008. When Britain won more, the British official was bragging to the Aussie about all the gold medals in cycling, rowing and sailing. The Aussie’s reply was to gloat that ”yes, but they were all won sitting down!”

Andrew Mitchell, you will be missed here in Stockholm.

Miles Avison

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