UK Sport, the government agency responsible for investing in Olympic and Paralympic sport, has revealed an ambitious plan to bring the Olympic Games back to London as early as 2036.
A potential bid for the quadrennial multi-sport event already has the backing of the Mayor of London, while the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has said it would not be too soon for the Olympics to return to the English capital, which last hosted the Games in 2012.
“We’ve got some great facilities and it would be great to see it done again. It’s early days but there’s no reason why we can’t bid,” said UK Sport chief executive Liz Nicholl, speaking to the Evening Standard.
“I would say if you look at where the Games have been held over recent cycles and if you were looking at where a European location would best next fit, it would be great if it [London hosting the Olympics] was 2032, but I would have thought 2036 is more likely.”
Plans to host the Games for a fourth time – London also staged the event in 1908 and 1948 – are part of a wider target to surpass the United States at the top of the Olympics medal table after Team GB finished runner-up at Rio 2016.
UK Sport has said that achieving that goal would require UK£1 billion in funding for Team GB athletes for every four-year Olympic cycle, which would be almost double the UK£550 million committed to Tokyo 2020.
“The dream scenario would be an incredibly long-term investment in the potential for us to be topping the Olympic medal table,” added Nicholl. “There’s no reason why, if this nation wanted to be the number one nation in the Olympic table, we couldn’t be. I really think we could if we have the right resources.
“Hosting the Olympics would give extra longer-term focus in this bid to be the best in the world. It adds significant momentum and potential to that. It becomes more likely to happen.”
A potential bid, which would have to be put forward by the British Olympic Association (BOA), would tie in with Mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s aim to make London the sporting capital of the world. A spokesperson for Khan told the Standard: “If there was the possibility of a London bid in that period of time, it would be a very exciting prospect that we’d be behind.”
The London 2012 Olympics were well received by the British public and the event was widely regarded to be a success. The IOC, which has struggled to attract host city bids for its events in recent years, says it is open to the prospect of the Games returning to the UK in 2036.
“There is no reason why London can’t bid,” an IOC spokesperson told the Standard. “There was Los Angeles in 1984 and again in 2028, then Beijing for 2008 and again for the Winter Olympics 2022. We’re always pleased when cities bid for the Games and particularly London, with its great legacy. I’m sure people in London would relish it.”