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IOC must focus more on legacy plan, says Paris bid boss

London 2012 Olympic Stadium
What happens to the Olympic Stadium post-2012 is the subject of fierce debate

By Matt Slater
BBC sports news reporter

The London Olympic Stadium row is a result of Olympic chiefs not taking legacy plans seriously enough, says the boss of Paris' bid for the 2012 Games.

London narrowly beat Paris for the right to stage the Games after a huge lobbying effort in Singapore in 2005.

But almost six years later there is still no plan for what should happen with London's main venue after 2012.

"I'm not surprised because the process of choosing a host city is not focused on legacy," said Philippe Baudillon.

"The 100 people who decide who gets a Games don't have any incentive to choose the best legacy proposal. It's not an important parameter for [the International Olympic Committee].

Thirty years ago there was no talk of legacy or sustainable development with Olympic bids - it's coming now but the evolution is very slow

Paris 2012 leader Philippe Baudillon

"They choose where they think is best for the Olympic brand and London was very good on this [during the bidding race].

"Legacy isn't a problem for the IOC; it's a problem for the hosts. I think they will have to take legacy into account more, otherwise people will get fed up with paying for something that only lasts 15 days."

Baudillon's comments come whilst the agency responsible for the legacy use of London's Olympic venues deliberates over two proposals from Premier League football clubs for the £537m Stratford stadium.

Tottenham Hotspur have submitted a plan to demolish most of the structure and rebuild it as a state-of-the-art football stadium that can also stage concerts but has no running track.

West Ham, on the other hand, are proposing to keep the track and convert the stadium into a multi-purpose venue for football, athletics, T20 cricket, music and community events.

This is far closer to the promise made by London's bid team in Singapore of leaving behind a venue with athletics at its heart.

But Spurs say their plan is a safer financial bet as football grounds with athletics tracks have proved to be unpopular elsewhere in Europe.

They have also offered to redevelop the dilapidated Crystal Palace venue in south London to ensure there is a more sustainable athletics legacy from the London Games.

The Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC) had been hoping to make one of these clubs their "preferred bidder" at a board meeting this week but that decision has been postponed in order to get more "clarification" on the those plans.

A final decision, rubber-stamped by the UK Government and London Mayor, is expected by the end of March.

Stade de France
Paris' Stade de France uses retractable seating to host a variety of sports

Neither option, however, is particularly close to the original legacy plan for the stadium, which proposed reducing it from its 80,000-seat Olympic configuration to a basic 25,000-seat athletics venue.

This idea has been quietly dropped in recent months as nobody believes it is economically viable without considerable public subsidy.

The irony of this is not lost on Baudillon, who is now the chief executive of the French arm of the US advertising giant Clear Channel.

The Paris 2012 plan was to use the Stade de France as the Olympic showpiece. The 80,000-seat stadium was built for the 1998 World Cup and has subsequently staged a wide range of sports events, including the 2003 World Athletics Championships.

Baudillon does not bear any grudges towards the London bid team, who he admits did a better job of selling their strengths than the Paris team, but says the IOC must change its selection criteria to reflect changes in the wider world.

"Thirty years ago there was no talk of legacy, the environment or sustainable development with Olympic bids. It's coming now but the evolution is very slow and the mindset of the IOC members is also slow," he said.

"There's a gap between what is happening in business and government, and what the IOC is doing. Now we're in the middle of an economic crisis, legacy planning has become crucial.

"There have been some good examples, like Barcelona and Sydney, but Beijing, which was a great Games, is having problems with its Olympic infrastructure and Athens is a complete disaster."

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see also
Olympic stadium decision on hold
24 Jan 11 |  London 2012
London 2012 costs not 'realistic'
20 Nov 08 |  Olympics
London beats Paris to 2012 Games
06 Jul 05 |  Sport Homepage
Paris' 2012 Olympic bid
06 Jun 05 |  London Guide

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