By Duncan Mackay
British Sports Internet Writer of the Year

Sebastian_Coe_with_David_Beckham_Olympic_Stadium_November_2010January 23 - Sebastian Coe today unequivocally backed West Ham United's campaign to take over the Olympic Stadium following London 2012 because he claimed it is the only option that can deliver on the promises that he made during the capital's successful bid to host the Games.

Coe, the chairman of London 2012, claimed that there is a "moral obligation" to ensure that the arena retains a multi-sport legacy when the decision is made on its future on Friday (January 28).

West Ham, in a joint bid with Newham Council, want to create a 60,000-capacity facility for football, athletics, concerts and community use.

Coe told BBC Radio 5 Live's Sportsweek: "There is a bid that delivers against the vision that we took to Singapore and we have a moral obligation to make it work.

"It's not beyond the wit of all of us to make this work and we have an obligation to make it work.

"The West Ham bid meets those commitments.

"I would have to vote West Ham."

Tottenham Hotspur have pledged to create an athletics legacy elsewhere by contributing to the refurbishment of the National Sports Centre at Crystal Palace, with the Olympic Stadium used solely for football.

They have caused controversy with their plans to demolish the £537 million ($826 million) Stadium and rebuild it without the track.


One of the key promises London 2012 made to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) when it won the right to stage the Games was that the arena would remain multi-sport, which is why Coe is backing West Ham, who submitted their final bid to the Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC) on Friday (January 21).

Although he does not have a vote on who should take over the Olympic Stadium after London 2012, Coe's public backing for West Ham is set to be highly influential. 

The two-time Olympic 1500 metres champion, who is also the vice-president of the International Asssociation of Athletics Federations (IAAF), has warned that British sport faces becoming pariahs if it fails to deliver on the promises it made when it was awarded the Olympics and Paralympics by the IOC at its Session in Singapore in July 2005.

He said: "This is about our ability to be taken seriously again in the corridors of world sport.

"The bid was very clear [in Singapore].

"This was to be a combination of athletics, community and multi-sport and we were were very clear about that.

"I remember a lot of things about that day in Singapore.

"I remember delivering a promise to the leaders of world sport; I don't recall [talking about] bulldozing a publicly-funded facility and inspiring a generation of Tottenham season ticketholders."

Coe's support for West Ham places him in direct opposition to two of his key lieutenants during the bid.

Sir Keith Mills, the former chief executive for London 2012, is now a leading member of Tottenham's Board while Mike Lee, the communications director during the bid, is now controversially running Spurs' campaign to take over the Stadium. 

Coe said: "I find it inconceivable that grandparents will take children back to a Premiership football ground, stand among the tiers of sponsorship boxes and say actually somewhere among this lies dormant the memories of Jessica Ennis or Usain Bolt reaching the heights of sport.

"It just does not smell right to me.

"What we pledged was not ambiguous, not warm words plucked out of the ether.

"It's really serious that we deliver on what we said unless we are prepared to trash our international reputation.

"There is an absolute obligation to the people of East London.

"It would be very difficult for us to be taken seriously again in the corridors of world sport - and, arguably, beyond - if we were to deliver a shoddy Games in 2012.

"We made legacy commitments and they are really important.

"This isn't a shootout between West Ham and Tottenham or football and athletics, it's our ability to be taken seriously again in the corridors of world sport.

"It is not beyond the wit of people in this country who have seamlessly delivered what the IOC is talking about as the best-delivered Games at this stage, to make this work - and we have a moral obligation to make it work."

Sebastian_Coe_with_Daley_Thompson_Singapore_July_2005Coe was backed by Daley Thompson, the two-time Olympic decathlon champion and a former team-mate of Coe's who was a leading ambassador during London's bid.

Thompson said: "We promised the world that we'd keep a track.

"That puts your credibility on the line.

"We were all up in arms because we didn't get the [2018] football World Cup, going mad that people broke their promises.

"What's the difference between that and what we're proposing to do with the Olympic Stadium if there's no track left there?

"It's a broken promise."

Thompson dismissed those who were backing Tottenham's proposal, including Simon Clegg, who was chief executive of the British Olympic Association (BOA) during the bid.

Clegg, now the chief executive at Championship club Ipswich Town, has claimed that athletics and football cannot work in the same arena.

Thompson said: "Simon Clegg left Olympic sport, and he has no credibility in football.

"To sort that out he's trying to make friends with his new football chums, so he's forgotten all the promises that were made

"We promised a legacy.

"We need to be able to stage future World and European athletics championships."

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