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November 24, 2008


Organizers of the 2012 London Olympics do not need to top the Beijing Games and should focus on creating a festive atmosphere and controlling spending on venues, IOC president Jacques Rogge said Monday.<!--startclickprintexclude--><!-- PURGE: /2008/SPORT/11/24/olympics.rogge.ap/art.rogge.afp.gi.jpg --><!-- KEEP -->

<!----><!--===========IMAGE============-->IOC president Jacques Rogge says the Olympics can survive the current global economic crisis.<!--===========/IMAGE===========--> Rogge also reiterated that the Olympics can survive the current global economic crisis.

The International Olympic Committee leader said he is often asked how London can outshine the Beijing Games and its extravagant opening ceremony, eye-catching venues and near flawless organization.

"It doesn't need to," Rogge said in a speech to the Royal Society of Arts, Manufacturers and Commerce.

"London just has to be London."

No single Olympics is better than another, he said.

"There is no 'best' or 'greatest,' there is just 'different,"' Rogge said. "Each games are unique. It is not the amount of money spent that determines how good a games is. It is also the unique and inspiring atmosphere created within the city. I'm sure London will do very well there."

Rogge noted that the Olympic movement is coming out of the big success of the Beijing Games into a world economic downturn.

"Well, the games have survived difficult times before," he said. "They have survived and thrived because of what they mean to people all over the world. ... Wars, economic downturns, natural disaster and violent attacks to not dissuade or dishearten humanity."

Rogge's speech came three days after he told European Olympic committees in Istanbul, Turkey, that the Olympics were no longer in "growth mode" but in "conservation mode."

On Monday, he said London will be the first summer Olympic host city to implement recommendations by an IOC panel in 2003 for limiting the size and cost of future games.

"London has learned from this and it will build its games around legacy and sustainability," Rogge said.

London, with a 9.3 billion pound ($13.9 billion) budget for venue construction and regeneration, is struggling to secure private funding for the athletes' village and has moved some venues to save money.

Rogge said the Beijing Games had left China with "immense" benefits from infrastructure improvements, a new airport, subway lines, sports facilities and environmental upgrades.

Rogge said the Olympics have long been a force for social, urban and political change, citing the impact on Tokyo (1964), Seoul (1988) and Barcelona (1992).

"Benefits like these don't happen by accident," he said.

Rogge delivered the "Pierre de Coubertin Lecture" organized by the RSA, which was founded in 1753. De Coubertin, a French baron who founded the modern Olympics, spoke to the RSA in 1904.

Rogge's speech coincided with weeklong meetings in which Chinese organizers are passing on lessons learned from the Beijing Games to London organizers.

Rogge praised London officials for trying to encourage young people to get into sports, citing figures that British children now spend an average of 5 hours, 20 minutes a day glued to television screens.

Rogge, who is waging a campaign against youth obesity, said 22 million children worldwide under the age of 5 -- and 1 in 10 school-age children -- are overweight.

"These inequalities result in an unjust and unhealthy global society," he said.

Rogge has created the Youth Olympic Games for athletes aged 14-18, which will debut in 2010 in Singapore.