By Tom Degun

Sebastian Coe smilingMarch 25 - London 2012 chairman and International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) vice-president Sebastian Coe has backed the capital to host the 2017 World Athletics Championships stating the city "would be a fantastic venue" for the prestigious event.

London is set to face stiff opposition from three cities to host the 2017 competition as Doha, Budapest and an unnamed city from Spain, likely to be Barcelona or Madrid, have put themselves forward to host the event.

In the last decade Britain has failed on three occasions to secure the Championships but with the London 2012 Olympic Stadium in Stratford set to have an athletics legacy after the Games and therefore the capacity to host the competition, Coe is confident the IAAF will want to bring the event to the city for the first time.

"There is obviously a lot of stiff competition for the 2017 World Athletics Championships but I think it's very important to bring the event to London," Coe told insidethegames.

"UK Athletics, under Ed Warner and Niels de Vos, are very keen explore that and I think London would be a fantastic venue for the competition.

London's biggest threat could come from Doha, the capital of Qatar, which put itself on the international sporting map when the country surprisingly won the right to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Qatar is now targeting the 2017 World Championships as another major event to help raise its profile but while Coe stated the IAAF does want to expand in new countries, he revealed they also want to recognise the core markets for the sport such as the UK.

"I think the IAAF is very clear that while they certainly want to extend the sport in developing countries, they also want to recognise the really solid markets for the sport," Coe said.

"There is no country in Europe that has a stronger base in track and field than the UK.

"The way UK Athletics is structured; there is hardly a country in the world that has that kind of strength in depth."

There are worries the IAAF might not look favourably at a London bid because of the three catastrophic failures Britain made to host the event.

Britain's bid to host the 2003 Championships was shelved after plans to build an athletics track in the new national stadium at Wembley were abandoned.

London was then awarded the 2005 Championships after then-Prime Minister Tony Blair promised the Government would build a brand new stadium at Picketts Lock to stage them - but he went back on that promise and the IAAF awarded the event to Helsinki at the last minute.

The latest failure for the 2015 World Championships occurred last year when the Government refused to back the bid because of uncertainty over the future of the Olympic Stadium, with Tottenham declaring they would remove the athletics track if awarded the venue.

But with West Ham and Newham Council set to take over the stadium and retain the athletics track, Coe is confident London will put forward a great case for hosting the event.

"We've now got the venue, we've now got the facilities and under the leadership of Ed and Niels, I think we will put up a really serious case," he said.

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