POSTED: July 24th 2009

Confident Seb Coe insists on no 'white elephants' from London 2012

London's new Olympic stadiu, - but not for long / London2012
London's new Olympic stadiu, - but not for long / London2012

KEIR RADNEDGE / Sports Features Communications

LONDON: Seb Coe is confident that London’s new Olympic stadium will not suffer the same ‘white elephant’ fate as the Bird’s Nest in Beijing which has remained unused since last year’s Summer Games.

Lord Coe was speaking ahead of Monday’s anniversary of three years to the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Games in London and after the launch of the weekend’s Cultural Olympiad event across the country.

Following up a morning’s workout with the English National Ballet, Coe said: “Early on we recognised that when you’re designing a Games you have to bear in mind what you want to use the facilities for afterwards.

“We are the only host city which has enshrined the concept of legacy which meant not just creating an 85,000-capacity stadium which will be left sitting here in the east end of London but something which, once the show has left town, has a usage and is of manageable proportions.

Primary purpose

“We will remove 55,000 temporary seats and will have a multi-purpose 25,000-seat stadium whose primary purpose will be track and field but not solely that.

“It’s time to think what we can put alongside that stadium and the strongest case is the number of schools in east London which have kids with talent and ambition and don’t have 100 yards of asphalt. So we’re leaving a facility we want embedded in the community for years afterwards.”

Coe, on BBC Radio Five, said there was no disagreement between LOCOG and London Mayor Boris Johnson over the stadium legacy issue. British athletics was badly in need of a modern facility to replace Crystal Palace “which was tired when I was competing.”

He challenged football's objection to using a stadium with a running track, pointing out that he had attend the last three UEFA Champions League finals which had all been in multi-purpose stadia – “and I didn’t notice any lack of atmosphere.”

Coe noted that the Olympic project was “on course and on budget.” He said: “If I had been asked four years ago when we came back from Singapore, if I would accept being where we are now, three years out, I would have snapped your hand off.

"We started ahead of schedule on the construction - which is the most challenging side of it - and we have held that daylight.”

** Three of the Beijing Olympic venues have been awarded prizes at the IOC/IAKS awards (IAKS: International Association for Sport and Leisure Facilities).

The Bird’s Nest took a gold medal in the stadia category and a distinction for accessibility for athletes and spectators with a disability. The National Aquatics Centre, the so-called Water Cube, also took gold and Olympic Green Tennis Centre a bronze medal.

Keywords · London 2012 · Olympic Games · Coe · Johnson

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