Van Commenee slams Olympic stadium debate

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UK Athletics head coach Charles van Commenee has labelled the discussion over the future of the Olympic Stadium "ridiculous".

The Dutchman claimed Tottenham's plans to demolish the stadium and build a new venue without a track would put the city behind just about every European capital city in the running to stage major events.

"I'm astonished that there's even a discussion, when a promise is made at the time that we made the bid. I think get on with it, ridiculous," he said.

West Ham are also bidding for the stadium but would keep the structure and running track in place and the Olympic Park Legacy Company has a board meeting on Friday, January 28 when it is expected they will decide on their preferred bidder.

Van Commenee admitted the loss of the stadium would be a huge setback for British athletics.

He said: "If London doesn't have a stadium where we can organise major championships in athletics, that puts you in a category in Europe that I can't even think of."

"Is there any capital in Europe that can't do this? Even Vilnius or Tallinn (the capitals of Lithuania and Estonia) can do that."


But Simon Clegg, one of the key figures in securing the Olympics for London, has come out in opposition to the West Ham bid. Clegg, who was honoured with a CBE after the 2012 bid's success, is the first person from an Olympics background to speak out against the track being retained.

Clegg said: "It is quite obvious that the only viable model for the stadium is to have a football club as an anchor tenant. It is not compatible to have football and track and field athletics in the same stadium in this country. Football fans in this country want to be as close to the action as possible.

"The West Ham option would be a huge challenge and I don't think it would work. It's madness to suggest we should keep a track just on the basis we may get an athletics World Championships or European Championships say once every 15-20 years."

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