Sebastian Coe has launched a savage attack on plans by the KSS Group to demolish two-thirds of the Olympic Stadium and convert the venue into a football-only arena
Part of Tottenham Hotspurs Football Club’s bid to operate the £500 million east London stadium after the games, the design would strip the arena of its athletics running track, reneging on promises made in 2005.
Failure to keep the running track – part of a long-term pledge to Olympics organisers – threatened to ‘trash’ Britain’s sporting reputation, claimed Coe.
He told BBC Radio Five Live: ‘I remember delivering a vision to leaders of world sport about a generation of young people being inspired to take up Olympic sports. I remember talking about young people in east London fashioning their futures through sport.
‘I’m prepared to revisit my words that day, but I genuinely don’t recall a whole heap about bulldozing down a publicly-funded facility, replacing it with a Premiership football club and inspiring a generation of Tottenham season ticket holders, however many there may be on a waiting list.
What we pledged in Singapore was not ambiguous
‘We must be really clear here. What we pledged in Singapore was not ambiguous.’
The criticism comes just days before a preferred bidder is set to be unveiled.
Rival bidder for the post-games operator role West Ham United has vowed to retain the running track.
While yet to announce an architect for the designs, West Ham – working with Newham Council – has revealed it would reduce the size of the 80,000-seat Populous-designed stadium to a 60,000 capacity venue. Populous’ originally planned to convert the stadium into a 25,000-seat Athletics arena after the games.
Karren Brady, West Ham vice-chairman, said: ‘It’s such a crying shame that it [the Olympic stadium] has been built on the back of a promise made in the Queen’s name, and is then going to be pulled down.
‘And Spurs’ bid frankly is equivalent to building 100 new primary schools and then bulldozing each and every one of them just four weeks after they’ve been built. I just fundamentally don’t believe in that.’
Let’s deal with fact rather than emotion
Spurs chairman Daniel Levy responded: ‘Strip out the emotion, take a step back and ask what’s best for athletics. It’s surely to have a dedicated facility that’s available all year round rather than 20 days a year.
‘There are all these emotive words being used. Let’s deal with fact rather than emotion. This word “promise” that has been used is such an emotive word.
Spurs has pledged to upgrade Crystal Palace stadium to make up for the loss of a running track at the Olympic Park.