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Tributes flood in for Dame Tessa Jowell, "driving force" behind London 2012

By Tom Walker    14 May 2018
Dame Tessa Jowell spent nearly a decade at the Department of Media, Culture and Sport

The UK sports sector has been paying its tributes to former Labour cabinet minister Dame Tessa Jowell, who has died at the age of 70 following a year-long battle with cancer.

Her 23-year parliamentary career was defined by her achievements as secretary of state for culture, media and sport – a post she held from 2001 to 2007 – and her work as Olympic minister.

She was the driving force behind London winning the bid for the 2012 Olympic Games, and was named Olympic minister in 2005, soon after London had been confirmed as host.

She remained in her Olympic role until 2010 and, following Labour's defeat at the general election that year, served as shadow Olympic minister until the conclusion of the Games in 2012.

According to Lord Sebastian Coe, the former chair of the London Organising Committee, London would not have secured the Games without Jowell and the support she secured from central government.

"No politician deserves greater credit for the Games," Coe said.

"Her contribution to the Olympic and Paralympic Games is easily defined - without Tessa there would have been no London 2012, and without Tessa they would not have been the success they were.

"Tessa was not just a close friend, she was a life enhancer."

Chair of UK Sport, Dame Katherine Grainger – and one of the Team GB Olympic champions at London 2012 – said: "This is incredibly sad news.

"As with every other aspect of her life, Tessa was a much respected and loved figure within British sport. Her accomplishments are enormous but just as impressive is how she achieved them: with decency, determination, guts and grace.

“Others have already noted how there would have been no London 2012 without Tessa’s vision and drive. Tessa was a true believer in the power and inspiration of sport, for which all of us who benefited from her support and conviction will be eternally grateful. Her legacy lives on.”

Sir Hugh Robertson, the former sports minister and current chair of the British Olympic Association, said Olympic sport had lost "a very great friend".

"She absolutely believed in sport as an agent for social change - as a means for bettering people's lives and for the good it could do for people."

Jowell is also being mourned by athletes, who have been praising her role in raising the profile of sport – and increasing funding available to it – during her time as culture secretary.

Olympic rower Matthew Pinsent said: "Tessa was absolutely central to the effort to win and stage the Olympics and Paralympics in 2012.

"Her determination and sense of humour surrounding them were infectious."

Another London 2012 Olympic champion – long jumper Greg Rutherford – added: "Tessa will forever be fondly remembered by all Olympic athletes.

"Her work on the London Olympics was integral in creating the greatest show on earth. Sad to hear the news of her passing."

Tessa Jowell  2012 Olympic Games  Sebastian Coe  Olympic and Paralympic Games  UK Sport  Katherine Grainger  Hugh Robertson  Matthew Pinsent 
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