POSTED: October 14th 2010
Boris Johnson faces 'doormat' jibe over London 2012 marathon route
CHRISTIAN RADNEDGE / Sports Features Communications
LONDON, Oct 13: Boris Johnson has been accused of betraying the residents of east London over the decision to change the route of the London 2012 Olympic marathon, meaning it will not now go through Tower Hamlets.
The original route through the East End has been championed by the Olympic borough of Tower Hamlets as a showcase for the area and way of ensuring residents would be inspired by the Games. However last week the decision was made to start and finish the marathon in The Mall in central London.
The marathon usually ends in the Olympic stadium though this was not case both in Athens in 2004 and in Rome in 1960.
John Biggs, a Labour Assembly member, accused the London Mayor of having been “a doormat” when he attended meetings with the IOC and LOCOG. Biggs suggested the decision showed Johnson as lacking backbone.
Further criticism followed from Andrew Boff, a Conservative Assembly member. He described it as ”cynical” that the route should circle central London almost four times, and he added that “it is not a marathon, it is not even a snickers.”
Johnson’s defense was that this had not been an easy decision and that other activities during the Olympics taking part in the East End made up for it. He added that the infrastructure of the roads in the borough of Tower Hamlets meant that it “was not possible” to have part of the marathon there.
Boff countered by asking why it was possible to close off roads for "IOC members' limousines," but not for the marathon. Johnson said it had been "a difficult but balanced decision.”
Later Boff said that residents of east London had every right to feel upset. He added: “This is the only event in the Olympics that shows off London. It was a bid promise, and it was to showcase the real London to the rest of the world.”
He argued that by concentrating the marathon in central London had put tourists before the community. In 1948 the marathon had travelled out through the north London borough of Barnet and showed off “ the real London.”
Boff added: “This was a crucial bid promise. People were supporting this in Singapore when we won the bid. They have gone completely back on their promise.”
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