October 3 - A team of inspectors visiting London to produce a report on the capital's bid to host the 2017 World Athletics Championships have been given a "cast-iron guarantee" by the Government that the running track will remain in place at Olympic Stadium regardless of whether Tottenham Hotspur wins it judicial review, it was claimed today.
A letter from the Treasury Solicitor making the guarantee was given to the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Evaluation Commission, which is headed by senior vice-president Bob Hersh of the United States, on their three-day visit to the capital.
"We had a private meeting with Bob Hersh where we gave him a letter from the Treasury Solicitor, the highest Government lawyer, to guarantee that there will be a running track at the Olympics Stadium in legacy mode," said Hugh Robertson, the Sport and Olympics Minister.
"We also made it absolutely clear about the so-called legal threat.
"Tottenham's actions are only about the process, not the fact, and if they were to win in the High Court we would simply start the whole process again and next time around the provision of track would be non-negotiable."
Tottenham's bid for the Stadium had included removing the athletics track, while West Ham United will keep it and allow the venue to remain the centre-point for London's 2017 bid.
"Bob Hersh explained to us why he needed to seek these guarantees, we provided him with that letter and he had and no further questions," said Robertson.
"We also made clear that this was not the theoretical bid of 10 years ago, and we wanted them to go to the Olympic Stadium to see it, feel it and sense what the World Athletics Championships will look like in London in 2017.
"Winning this bid is our major priority for the autumn and we have fantastic strengths.
"We have a cast-iron guarantee on the Stadium, we have made a guarantee that we will run the international inspiration programme until 2017, and there are the sponsorship opportunities.
"The Championships have been in Daegu, then they are going to Moscow [in 2013] and Beijing [in 2015], so it's probably about time to come back to Western Europe as that's a market they need to service.
"As our Olympics preparations show, we also know how to look after the athletes."
When asked by insidethegames if a Treasury guarantee would carry more weight than a Prime Minister's promise, a reference to the embarrassing backdown to host the 2005 World Championships when Picketts Lock collapsed in spite of Tony Blair's personal guarantee, Robertson said: "One has legal force, the other was personal... but [this time] they don't have to take us on trust, they came here [to the Olympic Stadium] and they put their feet on it".
The Evaluation Commission's visit coincided with the official unveiling of the track at the Stadium, which was marked by world 1500 metres silver medallist Hannah England running a symbolic first lap alongside Coe, the two-time Olympic 1500 metres champion.
"They [the Evaluation Commission] went away with the guarantees they needed, we didn't leave them in any doubt at all about the commitment to the stadium," said Coe, the chairman of London 2012 and a IAAF vice-president, who is also heading the bid for 2017.
"We made a very strong case this morning and we will continue to make that case, and it's a compelling case."
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