UK Sport boss backs ‘very feasible’ London Olympic bid but wants events spread around the country

Katherine Grainger and Anna Watkins celebrate winning gold in the women's double sculls at Eton Dorney Rowing Lake, Windsor in the 2012 Olympics Credit: PA

By ITV News Sport Producer Daniel Salisbury-Jones

Britain’s most decorated female Olympian and now, arguably, the most powerful woman in British sport supports an idea to bring the Olympics back to the UK and suggests more events would take place outside London than in 2012.

The former rower Dame Katherine Grainger, who is now chair of UK Sport, was speaking to ITV News after launching the funding body’s 10-year strategic plan.

In it, there are aspirations to "create the greatest decade of sporting moments" by hosting almost 100 major events over the next 10 years including the 2030 FIFA World Cup.

Whilst an Olympic bid is not part of that announcement, as Britain would not be able to host until 2036 or 2040, bringing the games back is part of the organisation’s longer term thoughts.

'It’s not just the big capital cities that could be the sole hosts of the Olympics,' Dame Katherine Grainger said

No serious discussions have taken place about how that would be achieved but earlier this week Mayor of London Sadiq Khan pledged to explore options if he was re-elected.

He could face a fight to keep events in London though as Grainger believes a re-run of 2012 would have to be more inclusive of the whole country.

She told ITV News: “What we've seen is this greater desire that it’s not just the big capital cities that could be the sole hosts of it and I think that's really exciting.

“We've seen that with other potential Olympic winter and summer bids, combining more cities as opposed to just one sole location and sort of spreading that area.

Is it feasible that the UK can host the Olympics again? UK Sport chair Katherine Grainger says yes

“I think there's always a mix. So you don't want it to spread too far and wide that suddenly, no one quite knows where the games are being held, but actually involving more venues leads it to more people feeling it's on their doorstep and feeling part of it.”

Grainger jokes about attending any future games here as an old lady, in contrast to 2012 when she was at her peak winning the only gold of her bulging Olympic medal collection.

She is serious about it happening though. “I think it's very feasible we'll host again. Absolutely,” she said.

“When exactly that will be, I think that there's a lot more in play, about who hosts when and where the competition is, but I think it's something we could be very excited about.”

Opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics. Credit: PA

That confidence comes from the success of 2012, the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games and what she hopes will be another Commonwealth success in Birmingham next year.

UK Sport is hoping to hammer home the message that Britain is the go-to venue for sporting events.

If successful with the 97 bids in its decade-long plan, it says there could be a potential £7 billion boost to the economy.

But as we slowly edge out of the pandemic, it’s the distant thought or perhaps dream of being able to attend so many great sporting events that should be savoured.