IOC member honoured by university

Sir Craig Reedie, ex-sportsman and member of the International Olympic Committee’s executive board for Great Britain spoke to The Linc upon receiving an honorary degree from the University of Lincoln on Wednesday, January 20th.


Reedie was awarded the degree for his services to sport and his efforts in the Olympic movement. Photo: Anneka James

He spoke of how thrilled he was to receive such an accolade from the university. Reedie said: “It’s a great honour. This is a very go-ahead, progressive, young new university that anybody would be flattered to be associated with.”

Scottish-born Reedie, formerly chairman of the British Olympic Association, is one of three members on the IOC’s executive board and is the first Briton since former hurdler Lord Burghley held a place on it in 1961.

“I’ve never met him [Lord Burghley],” Reedie said. “It’s nice to be part of a pretty exclusive club that only three people including myself have ever been a part of.

“I think we have to remember though, I don’t think we can turn around and say there is something wrong with Britain as it’s been more than 40 years [since a Briton held a place on the IOCs executive board].

“Britain gave organised international sport to the world and too many of us think that the world should be truly grateful.

“The hard facts of the matter are that sport is part of the fabric of people’s lives, literally all around the world, so I don’t think there is any automatic right that we deserve a place on any particular board,” he said.

Reedie, 67, who currently lives in Glasgow and travels to London weekly described his reaction to bringing the games back to Britain as a “yes” moment.

“As you fly over the site you think ‘This is terrific’, and then you think, ‘Well, I hope it’s going to be ready on time’.

“When the closing ceremony finishes in Vancouver [the 2010 Winter Olympic Games] on February 28th, it’s us that are next, so there is a certain degree of tension to make sure that we get it right,” he said.

He spoke about how the games will be delivered in two years’ time and revealed that it is more about the “feel good factor” that surrounds the Olympics than anything else.

“I see no reason why we shouldn’t run an extremely great games, the organisation of the sport is not necessarily straight forward but we should be good at that.

“The challenge to us particularly is to welcome the world for six weeks with both our own games and the Paralympics.

“It’s about putting a smile on your face, and let’s run a terrific party as well as running a sports event,” Reedie added.

When the Olympics arrive in summer 2012, London, as the host city, will reap the majority of the financial rewards. However, businesses across the whole of the United Kingdom will see the positive effects as a result of the 2012 Games, and one particular company in Lincolnshire is set to make a profit.

“There’s a company in Grantham called Site Coat Services, who have won the contract to paint the main stadium.

“The Olympic Delivery Authority is spending over £5m a day and these contracts are going to be going all around the country.

“There is business to be done,” Reedie said.

Reedie, a former Badminton doubles player who on occasions played with the grandparents of tennis star Andy Murray, hopes that the 2012 Olympics will help to motivate the younger generation to “get active”, but said that it is not always as easy as it could be.

He said: “There is no absolute empirical evidence that simply because you run a sports event it encourages lots of people to take up sport.

“It can be the catalyst but it does need other agencies to come in behind it, such as Sport England. It needs the governing bodies to come behind it so that they should be ready to pick up the enthusiasm that will be generated.

“Sports such as tennis often attract people in the UK to play during and after Wimbledon, but then after that there is nobody playing. This is something we are hoping can be changed so that people want to stay active throughout the year.”

A man who has always contributed significantly to sport, whether it is on a badminton court or on the IOC achieving a successful Olympic bid, Reedie believes that what he does is “fun” and “hugely enjoyable”.

“I don’t lie awake at night thinking that all of the athletes are grateful for me [because] that is not the case.

“It’s the old story that someone once said, ‘Henry Cooper fought a great war fighting for Britain. Well Britain was getting its face rearranged and so was Henry’.

“Athletes do it themselves, athletes win medals, the rest of us merely help,” Reedie emphasised.

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