Prime Minister officially launches Canada Olympic House
Tuesday, 05 June 2012
June 5 - Prime Minister Stephen Harper (pictured) today announced that Canada House on Trafalgar Square will become Canada Olympic House during London 2012, acting as a "home from home" for the country's top athletes.
Harper made the announcement during his visit here to attend the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations.
The House, which will be open between July 27 and August 12, will act as a base for Canada's Olympic team, which is expected to include more than 300 athletes, and their families.
"Our Government is committed to fully supporting Canadian Olympic athletes in their training and beyond," said Harper here during a special ceremony which was also attended by Marcel Aubut, the President of the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC), and Gordon Campbell, Canada's High Commissioner in Britain, who was the Premier of British Columbia when Vancouver hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics and Paralympics.
"I am pleased today to designate Canada Olympic House here in London which will help take care of our athletes and their families during the London Games, allowing our Olympians to focus on their performance.
"Since 1925 Canada House has been a home from home for Canadians and during the Olympics it will be a place for Canadians not only leaving their mark on London, but the world."
Part of the Canadian High Commission, Canada House is a diplomatic and public educational space located on historic Trafalgar Square and just a few hundred metres from Buckingham House, where earlier today more than 1.5 million people cheered the Queen as she appeared on the balcony at the end of four days of celebrations to mark her 60 years as monarch.
The building was designed by Sir Robert Smirke, the architect of the British Museum, and was built between 1824 and 1827, originally being used by the Union Club and the Royal College of Physicians before being acquired by the Canadian Government in 1923, who spent two years renovating it.
Besides acting as a focal point for the families of Canada's athletes during the Olympics, the House will also serve as a key site for media events and offer space to COC sponsors.
"Two years ago in Vancouver Canada's Olympic athletes made all Canadians proud with their exceptional performances," said Harper.
"This summer in London our athletes will once again go for gold and own the podium with all of the Canada cheering them on."
Aubut (pictured) admitted that the site of Canada Olympic House was probably the best that any National Olympic Committee (NOC) will have during London 2012.
"We are very proud to have this location," he said.
"Every NOC President in the world will be jealous of me.
"Canada House has always been a beacon of Canadian Hospitality in this great city, and today we are so thrilled that Prime Minister Harper his here to celebrate this new chapter in its incarnation.
"Starting today, as Canada Olympic House, it will be ready to support our outstanding Canadian athletes today who will wear the maple leaf with pride during the London 2012 Olympic Games."
Representing the families at the launch was Christiane Despatie (pictured), the mother of diver Alexander Despatie, an Olympic silver medallist in the 3 metre springboard event at both Athens in 2004 and Beijing 2008.
"It is the most beautiful place," she said.
"This is where all the emotions are mixed up.
"We have to reassure the parents on bad days and celebrate on a good day."
During the Paralympics, Canada House will relocate to the Bishopgate Institute, which is located in the Spitalfields area of London.
March 2012: Bishopsgate chosen as Canada Paralympic House for London 2012