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Last Updated: Monday, 4 July, 2005, 12:19 GMT 13:19 UK
London in clear over stadium row

By Andrew Fraser
BBC Sport in Singapore

Olympics chief Jacques Rogge has cleared London of breaching Games bidding rules over criticism of the Paris stadium.

A row broke out on Monday, two days before the 2012 vote in Singapore, when the French city's Olympic stadium came under fire at a London briefing.

Under International Olympic Committee rules, bidding cities are prevented from directly criticising their rivals.

But Rogge said: "We have had no complaints from any city in Singapore."

He added: "Had anyone gone over the yellow line I would have intervened. The fact I said nothing is a sign that nobody has gone over the line.

"If there has been criticism of the Stade de France, well, the IOC evaluation commission gave it a very favourable report."

Paris bid leaders had ruled out making an official complaint despite the comments at a London 2012 news conference.

Jim Sloman and Rod Sheard, Australian consultants to the London bid, upset the Paris team by saying the Stade de France was not ideal for athletics.

Even though they had a World Athletics Championships [at the Stade de France], it still has sightline problems
Jim Sloman
Sydney 2000 organising chief

But London officials played down the comments of Sloman and Sheard, insisting they were experts not currently connected to the bid.

"We totally understand the rules and guidelines," said Mike Lee, communications director for London 2012.

"The comments were not made by a member of the bid team or a spokesman for the bid.

"Mr Sheard, as a stadium designer, has his views but he's not in any position to speak on behalf of the London bid."

Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell added: "Rod was asked a question, which was a question about the comparison between two stadia and he gave an answer.

"And of course, it is important we don't criticise other cities. Some of the greatest cities in Europe are in for this contest.

Our job, first and foremost, is to sell the case for London
Culture secretary Tessa Jowell

"Our job, first and foremost, is to sell the case for London," she told BBC News 24.

When asked if he was disappointed with Sloman and Sheard's comments, Paris mayor Bertrand Delanoe said: "I think that to deserve victory you have to respect the Olympic spirit and demonstrate fair play.

"My grandfather is English and I have learned a very nice English word - fair play.

"I love London, but I am Parisian and I think Paris deserves to win this time."

While London plans to build a new stadium in east London for 2012, Paris would use the Stade de France, which was built for the 1998 football World Cup final.

The stadium in the north of the city now stages football, rugby and athletics events, and there was some criticism of its configuration for athletics when it hosted the 2003 world championships.

Sloman said the fact Paris already had its stadium in place did not give it an advantage over London.

It's a wonderful stadium. I really like going there to watch rugby, but unfortunately rugby is not part of the Olympics
Rod Sheard
Architect involved with London 2012

"There have been numerous very successful Olympics, including the Sydney Games, that built a purpose-built stadium, albeit to be reduced in size and changed in shape slightly to make a legacy," said Sloman.

"The one thing you do have with the existing [Paris] stadium is that it's been built for football - it hasn't been built for athletics.

"Even though they had a World Athletics Championships there in the last couple of years, it still has sightline problems.

"The London stadium will be built specifically for athletics, both short-term for the Games and long-term for the great legacy London needs for athletics."

Sheard has been involved in a host of recent major projects, including London's 2012 stadium, the Sydney 2000 Olympic stadium, the new Wembley, Arsenal's new Ashburton Grove home and Wimbledon's new Centre Court.

He said of the Stade de France: "It's a wonderful stadium. I really like going there to watch rugby, but unfortunately rugby is not part of the Olympics.

"There are fundamental compromises when you introduce other sports into an Olympic stadium, an athletics stadium.

"The benefit of having seen the difficulties with the Paris stadium and the issues that arose with the Sydney stadium allows us to say 'we can build a stadium that is dedicated for athletics and that has no compromises of sightlines and operational difficulties and yet can still be a viable stadium'.

"The most important thing is that we've also discovered that they can be financially viable. We can actually make these things generate income and pay for themselves.

"That's a huge step forward I think Paris probably struggles with that one right now."

In a pointed reference to the London's stadium plans, Paris mayor Delanoe said: "One good thing about the Stade de France is that it exists, and every day it shows its merits.

"On Friday there was a fantastic international event without a problem. There is not a single issue with this stadium."

Backers of all five bids - London, Paris, Madrid, New York and Moscow - are descending on Singapore ahead of the crucial vote.

IOC members will choose the venue for the 2012 Games on Wednesday.




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