Sebastian Coe, Chairman of London 2012, accompanied by Olympic champion Jonathan Edwards, visited BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London, on the evening of 23 January 2007. Coincidentally, the day marked exactly 2012 days to the start of the London 2012 Olympic Games. The party was welcomed by Girish Patel and introduced to the Board of Trustees. Yogvivek Swami escorted Lord Coe and Mr. Edwards upstairs to the main shrines of the Mandir and subsequently to the “Understanding Hinduism” exhibition.
The guests were greeted with rapturous applause inside the assembly hall where devotees had gathered for their arrival. The audience applauded as the sporting achievements of both athletes were read out. Yogvivek Swami garlanded Lord Coe and Jonathan Edwards. In his address, Lord Coe praised the spirit of volunteerism that the Mandir fosters and welcomed its participation in the 2012 games.
“Our message in Singapore [the city where Lord Coe won the bid for the right to host the games] chimes in with everything that I have heard tonight and I have witnessed. The message we took to Singapore was clear and unambiguous. It was about using sport to communicate with the next generation of young people – using sport to communicate the values of creativity, diversity and tolerance. Those, of course, are the values that surround us all here this evening.
I think one of the lessons we have also learnt tonight is that while we need 70,000 volunteers in 2012, I think we understand, when we come to your temple this evening, that we would not be standing marvelling at the spectacular architecture and the beautiful creations around us, had it not been for the volunteers that worked within such a professional structure to create something so beautiful in two years.”
Lord Coe and Jonathan Edwards were presented with mementos before leaving the auditorium. They then proceeded for a meal where the members of the Mandir sporting committee discussed their projects and achievements. Lord Coe’s visit provided an excellent opportunity for the Mandir to contribute towards the 2012 Olympic Games and assist the organising committee in their preparations.