Olympic Torch Relay

Anyone who doubted that the Olympics are exciting the public should have been in Arundel on Monday.  Huge crowds gathered to see the torch pass through the town, and in true British spirit we were undaunted by the rain.

It was particularly great to see all the local school children enjoy the event so much.  Each local school had been given a different Olympic nation to study, and their excitement was infectious.

The dedication and hard work that our Olympic sportsmen and women put in to compete at the highest level is inspirational.  They are a model to young people, both encouraging involvement in sport and demonstrating the commitment that is needed to succeed in life.

As I reminded the hundreds of schoolchildren gathered at Arundel Castle, Team GB won 47 medals in Beijing 2008, including 25 golds: our best ever performance.  How fantastic it would be if we could do even better this time when we're hosting the Olympics.

There has been a lot of negativity about the Olympics in the last few days.  The failure of G4S to fulfil its contract is completely unacceptable.  But I don't agree with those who seem to be suggesting that security firms shouldn't be used for this sort of  work.

It's quite usual for firms to do security checks at sports venues, as for instance they've just done perfectly well at Wimbledon.  We wouldn't want the police to be removed from the streets on a permanent basis to do jobs like this.

The key thing is that the Olympic sites will be properly guarded so that the public enjoy the games in safety.  That's what matters.

We have seen the torch relay - one of the biggest logistical challenges of modern times - being successfully run across the country, with 95 per cent of the population being within 10 miles of the flame.

And we shouldn't forget what the other big success so far.  All of the Olympics venues were completed ahead of time and under budget. 

So I hope that with just a week to go there will be more positive coverage of this fantastic event, and I look forward to cheering on Team GB as they go for gold on home ground for the first time in nearly 65 years.

Christopher N Howarth