October 4 - London's bid for the 2017 World Championships has been handed a major boost after American Bob Hersh (pictured), head of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Evaluation Commission, claimed the Olympic Stadium track issue that threatened to derail the campaign has now been resolved.
During their three-day inspection of the London 2017 bid, the nine-man Commission were given a letter from the Treasury solicitor - the highest Government lawyer – as a guarantee that the running track will remain in place at Olympic Stadium regardless of whether Tottenham Hotspur wins their controversial judicial review on October 18.
And at the press conference here in central London that marked the conclusion of the Commission's visit to the city, Hersh – who is the senior IAAF vice-president – confirmed that the world governing body are satisfied with the guarantee and that it was no longer an issue.
"We were concerned before we got here about the future of the Olympic Stadium track because of all that has been written in the media over the last few months," said Hersh, a Harvard Law School graduate.
"We wanted to seek assurances about the issue and following this visit, I am pleased to say that we have now received them.
"We are satisfied that in 2017, there will be a stadium in London with a track in it.
"The issue is resolved.
"Overall we are very pleased and very impressed with what we have seen in London.
"UK Athletics have shown huge passion and support for bring the event here and we know the passion of athletics fans in the UK which was made clear by the strong sales for athletics at the London 2012 Olympics.
"London has put together a great bid for the event."
When asked by insidethegames if a Treasury guarantee is better that the promise former Prime Minister Tony Blair gave to build a new stadium at Picketts Lock to host the 2005 World Championships before failing to deliver on it, Hersh said: "The nature of the two guarantees are different.
"Last time we had a personal note and this time with have a legal guarantee which is far stronger and more binding.
"Also, unlike with Picketts Lock there is now actually a stadium in place.
"Picketts Lock was just an idea but we have been to the Olympic Stadium during our visit here and we have walked around the stadium."
IAAF general secretary Pierre Weiss, who was also at the press conference, added: "You cannot compare past bids from London to this bid.
"This is a very strong bid with a stadium and a track already completed so that is all that we are concerned about."
London 2012 chairman Sebastian Coe - President of the London 2017 bid and an IAAF vice-president – claimed that he believed London had done enough to impress the Evaluation Commission and reassure them about any doubts that they might have harboured.
"I think that the IAAF knows that this time around, we are very, very serious about hosting the World Athletics Championships," he said.
"This bid from London is different from those in the past and it is a strong bid.
"We have support from the Government, UK Athletics and the Olympic Park Legacy Company and crucially we have guarantees in place regarding the track."
He was supported Hugh Robertson, the Sport and Olympics Minister, who was also at the press conference as London appeared determined to demonstrate that there was no lack of support for their bid.
"The key word for me is resolved," he said.
"We were in a position yesterday with the Mayor of London and the chair the Olympic Park Legacy Company to put that issue to bed for the IAAF Evaluation Commission.
"It is becoming a slightly pointless argument for Tottenham [to move to the Olympic Stadium] and to be fair to them, they have now committed to staying in the area around White Hart Lane and developing that area which is a great commitment from them.
"The Mayor has recognised that and given them some financial help with that.
"So now is the time to lift the challenge on the stadium so that we can get on and hopefully secure the World Athletics Championships."
The Commission are now heading straight to Doha for their three-day inspection of the Qatari capital before they produce a report on the two bids ahead of the IAAF Council Meeting on November 11 in Monte Carlo where the hosts will be decided.
Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]
October 2011: IAAF Evaluation Commission given "cast-iron guarantee" track will remain at Olympic Stadium
October 2011: Exclusive - "Athletics will stay in Olympic Stadium" head of Legacy Company to guarantee IAAF
September 2011: Exclusive - "We will show off Olympic Stadium in all its glory" promises Coe
September 2011: Exclusive - The "country can be proud" of what we are planning for Olympic Stadium claims Newham Mayor
September 2011: Andrew Warshaw - Please sort out this Olympic Stadium saga before everyone gets fed up