Zara Phillips hits out at Greenwich Park as Olympic venue

Thursday, 20 August 2009

By Duncan Mackay

Olympic Park_Zara_Phillips_JUne_14March 7 - The Queen's granddaughter Zara Phillips, the world eventing champion, has today criticised the choice of Royal Park Greenwich Park as the equestrian venue for the 2012 Olympics.

Phillips, who won the 2006 world title, questioned the legacy that would be left in Greenwich and told today's edition of The Timesnewspaper that Windsor or Burghley would be better venues.

She told the newspaper: "What is annoying is that they put something there and then take it all down afterwards.

"What's the point of that?

"Why don't you do it to a space that can be used with a legacy, not Greenwich Park where people walk their dogs?

"I thought that was the whole point of bidding for the Games."

Phillips' comments are a huge embarrassment to London 2012 as her mother, the Princess Royal, sits on its Board and is also is a member of the International Olympic Committee.

The interview was published just a day after the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) had issued a public statement backing the choice of Greenwich Park.

The 27-year-old Phillips, whose father Mark won three-day eventing gold at the Munich Games in 1972, was unable to compete in the 2004 Olympics in Athens or last year's Beijing Games because of injuries to her horse Toytown.

She said: "Windsor has had horse trials.

"The rowing is out there [at Eton Dorney] so it's not like it's miles away.

"It used to host an event but they ran out of money and the ground wasn't great, so why not try to make it better?"

Greenwich was confirmed as the venue in November last year by London 2012 after a review was carried out by KPMG at the request of the Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell.

As insidethegames reported yesterday, an independent report commissioned by No to Greenwich Olympic Equestrian Events (NOGOE) claimed that staging the events at the Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, would potentially cause economic and environmental problems.

The group have sent an open letter requesting the support of Princess Anne, who rode for Britain at the 1976 Montreal Olympics.

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