London to host 2017 World Championships


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The Independent Online

London has been awarded the right to host the 2017 World Championships after beating off competition from the Qatari capital of Doha.

The council of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) voted in favour of London following final presentations from both cities in Monaco this afternoon.

IAAF vice-president and London 2012 chairman Sebastian Coe led London's presentation and the decision fulfils his 2005 promise that the Olympic Stadium would have an enduring athletics legacy.

London's presentation also featured contributions from Sports and Olympics minister Hugh Robertson, London mayor Boris Johnson, former Olympic heptathlon champion Denise Lewis and world junior champion Jodie Williams.

Williams, 18, could be at her peak in 2017 and revealed her "ultimate dream" is to compete for a senior world title on home soil.

The news comes as a major relief to UK Athletics officials after previous bids to stage the championships ended in failure.

A bid for the 2001 World Championships had to be abandoned after initial plans for an athletics track to be included in the redevelopment of Wembley Stadium were scrapped.

London was then awarded the 2005 Championships after Prime Minister Tony Blair promised a new stadium at Picketts Lock in north London would be built to host them.

But they were taken away after the Government went back on its promise and were given to Helsinki instead, while the 2011 bid was withdrawn due to uncertainty surrounding the future of the Olympic Stadium.

Coe said: "It's a great, great result and it's down to the clarity of the message that (UK Athletics chairman) Ed Warner and the team have been working on.

"The maintenance of the track and field legacy was absolutely crucial.

"It was very important for us not to get spooked by inducements (from Doha) and just to make sure that people understood in London we have the stadium stuffed to the gunnels with people who look like they want to be there and know why they want to be there."

Mayor of London Boris Johnson said hosting the championships would help ensure the Olympic Stadium will have a "long and active life".

He said: "Despite an excellent challenge from Doha, the London team put together a cracking bid which has paid off with this fantastic news today.

"With the 2017 championships now in the diary next summer's London Games is just the start of a long and active life for our magnificent stadium.

"In addition to athletics it will host a variety of sports competitions including football as well as a range of other events from major concerts to community activities. I am absolutely thrilled for London."

Prime Minister David Cameron vowed to make the championships "the most successful ever".

He said: "This is great news both for London and the whole country. There is no better way to follow the Olympics, and to build on its legacy, than by welcoming the world's greatest athletes back to London for the 2017 World Championships.

"We are determined to make 2017 the most successful World Athletics Championships there has ever been and we look forward to welcoming athletes and fans from the world over to our vibrant, multicultural, sports-mad capital."

Johnson also noted the financial benefits the event could bring to the capital, but emphasised London's top priority was a sporting one.

"This is a big boost for athletics in our city and it's also worth a lot of money to London in terms of jobs - a £100million for the UK economy...that's worth fighting for," he told Sky Sports News.

"In the end I think they really felt - judging by their body language - that we wanted it for the right reasons: to do athletics proud as a sport."

Johnson acknowledged the battle between football clubs Tottenham and West Ham for tenancy of the Olympic Stadium but was clear that athletics was now a central part of the venue's future.

"This shows the Olympic Stadium - which has been subject of long controversy in London - now has a very clear destiny.

"It will be a multi-use, multi-sport venue. It delivers not just football, not just pop music but, in perpetuity, athletics: for domestic competition, for school championships and for international competition.

Margaret Ford, chairman of the Olympic Park Legacy Company - the organisation charged with determining the future of the site, added: "I am delighted that London has won. This bid process has given us a chance to showcase London and show people the fantastic legacy that will result from the London 2012 Games.

"We have always been committed to a lasting athletics legacy for the Olympic Stadium and being able to host the World Athletics Championships in 2017 is the icing on the cake.

"Not only can London look forward to the Games next year, it can be assured that plans to transform the Park after the Games are more advanced than any other host city.

"We are set to deliver an exciting mix of new homes, jobs and leisure opportunities to sit alongside our world-class sporting venues."