Exclusive: Badminton finally endorse move to Wembley for London 2012

Sunday, 16 May 2010

By Duncan Mackay
British Sports Internet Writer of the Year

May 15 - Badminton has finally given its official approval to a cost-saving move to Wembley Arena for the London 2012 Olympics - ending a stand-off that lasted more than a year.

The World Badminton Federation (WBF) voted at its annual meeting in Kuala Lumpar to rubber-stamp the move, joining rhythmic gymnastics, who voted last week to give their approval.

London 2012 decided last year to scrap a temporary facility near Olympic Park in East London and relocate rhythmic gymnastics and badminton to Wembley, a move that will save up to £40 million ($59 million).

The two sports expressed concern about the travel time between the Olympic Village and Wembley, and discussions have dragged on for months, although London 2012 officials claim that the average journey time is only 42 minutes.

But Paul Deighton, the chief executive of London 2012, has promised officials from badminton and rhythmic gymnastics that ample security will be in place for athletes should they want to stay in hotels in Wembley outside the Olympic Park.

Wembley Arena is opposite Wembley Stadium, which is due to host the semi-finals and finals of the Olympic football tournament in 2012, and was built for the 1934 Empire Games and originally housed a swimming pool, which hosted that sport when London last staged the Olympics in 1948.

It was renovated at a cost of £35 million ($51 million) five years ago and with 12,500 seats is London's second biggest indoor arena after the O2, staging concerts of several major bands and singers, including ABBA, Cliff Richard and Tina Turner.

Badminton had been expected to back the decision during a meeting at the All-England Championships in Birmingham in March but it was put back to this month.

Badminton is already due to hold its World Championships at Wembley Arena in 2011, when the event will be held from August 8 until 14.

That event is now set to be a major test for London 2012.

London 2012 officials are expected to announce more details next week.

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Related stories
May 2010:
Gymnastics approves move to Wembley for London 2012
January 2010: Badminton officials to visit London to discuss Wembley row
December 2009: Badminton still against move to Wembley for London 2012
November 2009: London decision to move badminton supported by IOC
November 2009: Exclusive - Sir Craig backs London 2012 in row with badminton

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