Norfolk bid for Olympic torch tour

PUBLISHED: 13:27 11 August 2010 | UPDATED: 11:56 16 September 2010

THE Olympic torch could be on its way to Norfolk in the build-up to the 2012 London games, if an ambitious bid to make the county a key part of the celebrations is successful.

THE Olympic torch could be on its way to Norfolk in the build-up to the 2012 London games, if an ambitious bid to make the county a key part of the celebrations is successful.

Norfolk County Council has lodged a bid to get the torch brought to the county to link in with a summer of sporting events in which thousands of people will be joining ahead of the Olympic and Paralympic games.

The council's vision highlights the county's historic places, areas of outstanding natural beauty and sporting and cultural landmarks as reasons why the torch should pass through Norfolk on its way to London.

London 2012 organisers announced in May that the flame will arrive in Britain on May 18 2012 and would reach the capital the weekend before the start of the games on July 27.

The route of the torch has yet to be announced, but Norfolk County Council has submitted its bid for the torch to visit the county to the East of England Development Agency.

Organisers have said 95pc of Britons will be within an hour's journey of seeing the torch and there are hopes it will spend at least three days in the East of England.

The aim of the relay is for the torch to visit different communities and cultures and draw people into the Games.

It will also be used to showcase Britain's towns, areas of outstanding natural beauty and sporting and cultural landmarks.

Derrick Murphy, cabinet member for cultural services, said: “Norfolk would be a fantastic location to host the torch relay, with its historic buildings and iconic world famous locations such as The Broads.

“However, what we hope will make our application stand out from the crowd is the potential to tie the relay into mass participation events planned for 2012, such as the Norfolk Village Games, which will be a truly inspirational event for thousands of people, or the Norfolk Youth Games, both of which will feature people actively taking part in sport.

“After all, London's success in getting the games was partly about encouraging more people to take part in sport - so it would certainly send a very powerful message if, say, the opening or the finale of the Village Games or the Youth Games could be linked with the torch's arrival in our beautiful and inspirational county.”

The bid has won the backing of leading sportsmen and women from Norfolk.

Former Norwich schoolgirl Emma Pooley, who won a silver medal at the women's cycling time trial at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, said: “It would be fantastic”.

Norwich-born former European and British title winning boxer Jon Thaxton said: “It would be brilliant to bring the torch to Norfolk. We have had Olympians and Paralympians from the city and the county, so that shows the level of talent that we have got around here.”

Hethersett Parish Council has already made its own bid for the Olympic torch to visit the village. Last month the village held a weekend of sporting and cultural activities marking the countdown to the London 2012 games.

Sir Keith Mills, the deputy chairman of the London 2012 organising committee had singled out Hethersett as the launch pad for the region's weekend of activities because the village had organised more public events per head of its population then anywhere else in the UK.

“This part of the country is frankly leading the rest of the country. There are more projects and much more enthusiasm here than any other part of the country,” said Sir Keith.

A final decision on the route of the torch will be made by the London Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games and is expected to be announced next year.

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