Athletics world bid to go ahead

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Athletics looks set to have a place at the new Wembley after all with the 2005 World Championships providing the showpiece attraction.

Athletics looks set to have a place at the new Wembley after all with the 2005 World Championships providing the showpiece attraction.

UK Athletics and Wembley National Stadium Ltd tonight confirmed that a bid to host the 2005 championships at Wembley can go ahead as planned.

It had been feared that the bid would be severely hampered by the debate surrounding the rebuilding of Wembley with the deadline for submissions less than two weeks away.

Wembley architects had been given until tomorrow to rethink their designs for the stadium by Culture Secretary Chris Smith after criticisms in a report from consultants Ellerbe Becket that it was unfit for major athletics events.

But those fears appear to have been allayed with plans now agreed for the stadium to re-open in 2004 with an athletics "platform" in place, ready to host the championships the following year.

"Obviously we read the Ellerbe Becket report with interest but I should stress that UK Athletics' technical staff have been working with Wembley for some time to ensure that the new stadium is suitable for athletics," said David Moorcroft, Chief Executive of UK Athletics.

"We are confident that WNSL has refuted all the points made by the report and are as convinced as ever that the new Wembley Stadium will provide a great home for the flagship athletics events.

"I am aware of no technical reason to prevent Wembley hosting athletics."

WNSL Chief Executive Bob Stubbs added: "I am delighted that UK Athletics have supported our plans for athletics at Wembley.

"Athletics has always been an integral part of the design of the new stadium. We are now discussing how we can ensure that a legacy is provided for British Athletics by the 2005 Championships."

It has been put to the Government that such a legacy could be provided by the championships if the warm-up track for the games could be developed as part of the proposed 20-25,000 seat National Athletics Stadium.

As Alan Pascoe, chairman of Fast Track, told PA Sport last week, such a stadium would be ideal for hosting Grand Prix events and other championships, with Wembley only needed for athletics again if a future Olympic bid were successful.

If a bid for the 2005 games is successful - and insiders feel it is almost a forgone conclusion - the new Wembley stadium would open with the athletics platform in place, most likely in its 80,000 capacity 'Olympics mode'.

Comments