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London 2012: Athletes want Olympics legacy pledge met

Olympic Stadium
Tottenham and West Ham have been identified as "preferred bidders"

Kelly Holmes and Daley Thompson are among a group of UK Olympians urging authorities to keep the Olympic Stadium running track after the 2012 Games.

Plans by Premier League club Tottenham to relocate to the stadium would result in the running track being removed.

"We urge the decision makers to ensure the track remains post 2012," the group wrote in an open letter.

"[It would] bring to life a sporting promise made to a whole community for generations to come."

Tottenham's proposal has been submitted in collaboration with AEG, who manage the O2 Arena, and, together with West Ham United's plan, is one of two bids being considered by the Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC), the organisation responsible for the long-term management of the Stratford site.

It would be unacceptable for the stadium to lose the track and effectively become an Olympic Stadium with NO Olympic connection or legacy

Athletes' open letter

The Spurs proposal has been deemed "completely unacceptable" by UK Athletics (UKA) because their plans for an 80,000-seat stadium would involve ripping up the athletics track.

That would break the original pledge for a world-class athletics venue after the 2012 Games.

West Ham, however, want to create a 60,000-capacity arena for football, athletics, concerts and community use in a collaboration with Newham Council, a bid endorsed by UKA.

Former Olympians Alan Wells, Steve Cram, Steve Backley, Roger Black, Jamie Baulch, Lynn Davies, Brendan Foster, Katharine Merry, David Moorcroft, Alan Pascoe, Wendy Sly, Ian Stewart and the Paralympian Tanni Grey-Thompson, added their weight to urge the OPLC to honour the 2005 pledge of "an athletics legacy in the form of a world-class stadium".

They wrote: "Here was a stadium that would see young athletes competing for an English schools title run on the same track as Usain Bolt, where Premiership footballers could play whilst club athletes train.

"Here was somewhere that could play host to Twenty20 cricket one week and a pop concert the next.

The whole idea of an Olympic legacy is that something tangible is left for the sport afterwards

Former 1500m runner Steve Cram

"There is no doubt a legacy of bricks and mortar can work. Look to the Velodrome in Manchester, a true legacy of the 2002 Commonwealth Games that is paying dividends every time British cyclists compete on the world stage.

"As Olympians we are all ardent sports fans and that is why we believe the Olympic legacy HAS to be the Olympic Stadium complete with track.

"It would be unacceptable for the stadium to lose the track and effectively become an Olympic Stadium with NO Olympic connection or legacy."

BBC commentator Cram, a silver medallist in the 1500m at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, said the Stratford stadium could host major international athletics meetings in the future.

"If you are going to have a stadium of that size it needs to be used well, not only as a national centre for UK athletics but also to host major athletics events in the future," he told BBC Radio 5 live.

"While Britain has pulled out for bidding for the 2015 World Championships, there is an intention to bid for the 2017 Worlds - and then there are the future Europeans and Commonwealth Games too.

"The whole idea of an Olympic legacy is that something tangible is left for the sport afterwards."


Meanwhile, the issue of who takes over the stadium after the Olympic Games has been raised during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons.

The Labour MP for Tottenham, David Lammy, asked David Cameron for his support against the Spurs' bid.

But the prime minister refused to become involved, saying that "recent experience had taught him to stay out of football management".

Earlier this week, London 2012 chairman Lord Coe told a Culture, Media and Sport committee that the organising committee was "not party" to the bids process by either Tottenham or West Ham.

"I'm loathe to get into this discussion," said Lord Coe, who is also vice-president of the International Association of Athletics Federations.

"It is not up to us. The OPLC are conducting the process of the stadium along the recognisable lines that commitments have been made on the basis of future use."

Asked whether it would be a shame if the venue were to be pulled down, Coe replied: "I would agree with you".

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see also
Spurs 2012 stadium bid criticised
17 Nov 10 |  London 2012
Spurs and Hammers lead 2012 bids
12 Nov 10 |  London
Hammers Olympic ground bid backed
11 Oct 10 |  West Ham
Spurs allay Olympic Stadium fears
06 Oct 10 |  Tottenham
Spurs submit Olympic Stadium bid
01 Oct 10 |  Tottenham

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