Sunday, January 23, 2011

Coe backs Hammers' stadium bid

Lord Coe has thrown his support behind West Ham's bid to take over the Olympic Stadium.

In line with the successful bid's legacy pledge, the Hammers intend to keep the athletics track inside the stadium, while their rival bidders Tottenham want to create a football-only stadium and instead plan to redevelop the current athletics venue at Crystal Palace.

And Coe, chairman of the London organising committee, believes West Ham's bid best fulfils the legacy promise, which he feels a "moral obligation" to implement. "This is about our ability to be taken seriously again in the corridors of world sport," Coe told BBC Radio 5Live. "There is a bid that delivers against the vision that we took to Singapore and we have a moral obligation to make it work.

"It's not beyond the wit of all of us to make this work and we have an obligation to make it work. The West Ham bid meets those commitments. I would have to vote West Ham."

Spurs boss Harry Redknapp claimed West Ham risked turning their home ground into a "desolate graveyard" if they were to keep the running track, but Coe believes it would be far worse to demolish the track, and with it, Olympic memories.

"I find it inconceivable that grandparents will take children back to a Premier League football ground, stand among the tiers of sponsorship boxes and say actually somewhere among this lies dormant the memories of Jessica Ennis or Usain Bolt reaching the heights of sport. It just does not smell right to me."

Lamine Diack, president of the International Association of Athletics Federations warned that Britain would lose all international credibility if they failed to live up to their legacy promise of keeping a world-class athletics stadium in the capital.

And Coe echoed Diack's comments, admitting Britain's chances of winning the right to host future sporting events would be severely compromised.

"It's really serious that we deliver on what we said we were going to deliver, unless we are prepared to trash our international reputation," he said. "If we don't, it would be very difficult for us to be taken seriously again for the foreseeable future in the corridors of world sport."

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