London drops out of World 2015 race

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The Independent Online

A bid for London to host the 2015 World Championships has been abandoned due to continuing uncertainty over the future of the 2012 Olympic Stadium. The capital will instead be put forward to host the event in 2017.

The decision leaves Beijing as the sole bidders for 2015 and the Chinese capital should be confirmed as hosts by the International Association of Athletics Federations on 20 November.

The British government was unable to commit to backing a 2015 bid because a number of the post-Olympics tenders for the 2012 stadium, including Tottenham Hotspur's, involve removing the running track. Ministers feared committing to a bid for 2015 with the stadium as the centre-piece might leave them open to legal action.

It is understood the decision to bid instead for 2017 has been made with the blessing of the IAAF. The sports minister Hugh Robertson said he was now very hopeful the government would underwrite the 2017 bid, adding: "That is still to be completely confirmed but I would be very disappointed if that were not the case."

The minister said the biggest danger would have been to make a bid and then withdraw, as happened in 2001 when the then government pulled out of London's Picketts Lock hosting the 2005 championships. Robertson admitted: "The crucial thing was to avoid the collateral damage we suffered with Picketts Lock."