By Duncan Mackay
British Sports Internet Writer of the Year

August 26 - The Conservatives have launched a bitter attack on transport arrangements for the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics, claiming that many of the potential problems could be alleviated if more use was made of public transport during the Games.

Richard Tracey, the Tory spokesman on transport at the Greater London Assembly, has claimed that the controversial £25 million ($39 million) Olympic Route Network (ORN), which covers 100 miles in the capital, is "unworkable".

He told insidethegames: "The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is concerned that traffic is the biggest problem facing London 2012, but this is because they expect thousands of their officials and camp followers to be whisked around in limousines. 

"Plans have been drawn up to transport 80,000 athletes, officials, journalists and sponsors around London by road. 

"In a city with such extensive public transport, this is an arguably unworkable plan."

Tracey's comments came in the wake of insidethegames' exclusive story yesterday that the IOC still have concerns over traffic during the Olympics.

But the launch of the ORN has helped ease their fears.

The scheme was unveiled last month at a press conference that attracted the support of London's Conservative Mayor Boris Johnson and Transport Minister Theresa Villiers and Sport and Olympics Minister Hugh Robertson, both Tory members of the central coalition Government.

But Tracey, a former Environment Minister in the Margaret Thatcher Government, claims that there is no need for such an extensive network because most of the athletes will be housed at the Olympic Village on the Olympic Park.

He said: "Whilst the athletes clearly need to reach their competition venues on time, most of them will be based at the Athletes' Village and competing at the Olympic Park which is within easy walking distance. 

"The rest of the Games 'family' who plan to travel by road should look at taking the Tube, the train, or the river bus. 

"With IOC officials and the media staying in central London, they are only seven minutes from Stratford by Javelin train, whilst the Central and Jubilee Lines are also viable options.

"Alternatively, competition venues in Greenwich, Woolwich, and indeed Wimbledon can be accessed easily by river transport.

"The IOC and the Olympic Delivery Authority need to be more open to debate about and use of public transport. 

"It is unreasonable to cordon off lanes on some of London's busiest roads and cause traffic chaos, when there are so many alternatives to travelling by limousine. 

"After all, they are insisting that all 10 million spectators at the Games travel by public transport, so why shouldn't the officials and sponsors use public transport too?"

A spokeswoman for the ODA told insidethegames: "The ORN is essential to making the Games a success and ensuring that the transport system works at Games-time.

"It will ensure that not only athletes, but officials including referees and judges, marketing partners and 28,000 media get to the venues on time and have consistent journey times."

She also added that competitors in a number of sports would not be competing on the Olympic Park, including those in volleyball at Earls Court, archery Lords aand tennis at Wimbledon.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

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