Spurs must end stadium fight for sake of UK, says sport minister
Cahal Milmo is the chief reporter of The Independent and has been with the paper since 2000. He was born in London and previously worked at the Press Association news agency. He has reported on assignment at home and abroad, including Rwanda, Sudan and Burkina Faso, the phone hacking scandal and the London Olympics. In his spare time he is a keen runner and cyclist, and keeps an allotment.
Wednesday 13 July 2011
Hugh Robertson, the sports minister, has warned Tottenham Hotspur they risk fatally damaging any British bid to host the 2017 athletics World Championships if they continue their legal challenge over the future of the Olympic Stadium.
Robertson believes Tottenham should bow to the "greater good" – along with Leyton Orient – and drop their challenge to West Ham being given the lease to the stadium. The IAAF, athletics' world governing body, has set a deadline of 1 September for all bids to be confirmed – Doha and Budapest are the other declared contenders – and if the High Court appeal has not been resolved, Britain will have to withdraw. "I would hope Tottenham would see the greater good to London, maybe it's a fond hope," said Robertson yesterday. "The initial economic planning tells us it will be a £100m boost from hosting a World Athletics Championships."
The UK has been involved in embarrassing bids to host the event in the past and Robertson is determined that will not happen again. If the future of the stadium is not settled in six weeks' time, there will be no London bid. Robertson said: "We are caught between the court timetables and the IAAF timetable.
"The key thing is if we can get Tottenham's and Leyton Orient's appeal through the High Court and, I would say, dismissed. We're in the queue and we don't have a date. If the High Court is not settled we don't have a secure venue. That would make it very difficult to bid.
"I want to bid for the 2017 World Athletics Championships. I want to be ambitious for British sport and want my time as a minister of sport to be a time when British sport is leading the world. A bid for a World Athletics Championships is a really important legacy from 2012. I find it frustrating that having been through the process we are now being dragged through the High Court, having won the first round we have the appeal to come. If we win that we will bid, but I will not let the country bid if we have not got a locked down secure venue, given the backdrop of previous bids."
Last month Tottenham and Leyton Orient lost their case for a judicial review over West Ham's selection by the Olympic Park Legacy Company, but are now appealing. West Ham are scheduled to move into their new stadium in 2014.
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