Pascoe: Scrapping 2012 stadium a betrayal

LONDON - A leading member of London's successful bid for the 2012 Olympic Games said the legacy promises made by Sebastian Coe would be reduced to rubble if Tottenham Hotspur take over the main stadium.

Alan Pascoe believes choosing Tottenham - who would largely demolish the Olympic Stadium and replace it with a 60,000-seater purpose-built football ground - over Premier League rivals West Ham United as anchor tenants could have far-reaching implications for Britain's standing in world sport.

"Everyone but the money men at Spurs would lose out if Tottenham get the Olympic Stadium," Pascoe, a hurdles silver medallist at the 1972 Olympics, told Reuters by telephone on Friday.

"Athletics is the premier Olympic sport. Remember, we are holding the Olympics for the third time and there is no evidence of the 1908 Games having taken place, there is no evidence of the 1948 Games and if Tottenham get their way there will be no evidence of the 2012 Games.

"It would be a betrayal of the people who bid for London... and it would be a betrayal of British sport.

With preparations for next year's Games on track and plaudits from the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the issue of what becomes of a stadium that cost 516 million pounds threatens to tarnish the build-up.

West Ham, whose Upton Park ground is just five kilometres from the Olympic Park in Stratford, have widespread support for their bid which would leave an athletics and multi-sport legacy in place - one of London's original selling points to the IOC.


Tottenham, who outlined the details of their bid this week, have already gained planning approval to build a new stadium on the site of their current home in north London but a move to Stratford is considered more cost-effective.

American entertainment giant AEG, which owns London's hugely successful O2 Arena, formerly the "white elephant" Millennium Dome, are backing Tottenham's Olympic stadium plans.

Final bids need to be received by end of next week with the Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC) choosing its preferred option a week later, although the Government and the Mayor of London will have the ultimate say.

Pascoe said reneging on the promises made to IOC delegates in Singapore would leave an equally bitter taste to that experienced by England's bid team when they were overlooked at the vote for hosting the 2018 World Cup in Switzerland in December.

"We all have a view of FIFA and (Prime Minister) David Cameron has expressed his dismay that people looked him in the eye and made promises," he said.

"If Spurs win the bid then the whole of British sport will be in that position. The consideration must be the reputation of Britain and British sport.

"We would never ever be able to bid credibly for a major sport event again because people would say you break your promises. This was not a peripheral thing, it was at the heart of 2012 bid."

IOC chief Jacques Rogge has distanced himself from the stadium debate but said this week he "would favour a track legacy" while London organising committee (LOCOG) chairman Coe is also backing West Ham's proposals.