As Mayor of Tower Hamlets I am very proud that the East End will host tens of thousands of competitors and visitors, from all over the world, for the Olympic Games.
The Games are an amazing sporting spectacle, but they are also so much more than that. They provide a unique platform for international cultural exchange. In the very act of bringing together so many different nationalities from across the world, the Olympic Games send a message to the world of solidarity, friendship and peace. At a time when our headlines are dominated by economic uncertainty, war and terrible injustices, that Olympic message of peace and goodwill is as pertinent as ever.
It is also a message that is very close to my heart.
When I was elected in 2010, one of my first acts to sign up to ‘Mayors for Peace’. This is a global community of over 5,000 Mayors, from all corners of the world, united by our commitment to a vision of a nuclear-free world. Our message is simple: eliminate the nuclear threat and protect our cities from the horrors of war. We lobby governments, send delegations to the United Nations, form partnerships nationally and internationally, and strive to raise awareness around the world about the pressing need for nuclear disarmament.
As we enjoy the Olympics, let us also recall the circumstances of their historical birth in ancient Greece. At that time, Greek societies were in turmoil, ravaged by war and pillage. The Olympics emerged as part of a rebirth and with two aims: to celebrate sporting prowess and to end war.
That message is as relevant to us today as it was to our forefathers all those centuries ago.