Britain must emulate the spirit of Sydney

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The Independent Online

Britain's sporting establishment has been challenged to match the "can-do" spirit which characterised the Sydney Olympics over its commitment to staging the 2005 World Championships.

Britain's sporting establishment has been challenged to match the "can-do" spirit which characterised the Sydney Olympics over its commitment to staging the 2005 World Championships.

Speaking the day after a UK Sport spokesman described the plans as being "on the edge of disaster", Dave Moorcroft, the chief executive of UK Athletics, said he was confident that the Championships would go ahead here and called for a more positive attitude to the task.

"As a group of agencies committed to this project we are not pulling together in the way we should do," he said. "This is a test of whether British sport can pull together as Australia's sport did. Not staging the Championships is clearly an option, but I don't think it will happen. I think everything is on course."

Although the venue, at Picketts Lock in North London, will cost an estimated £90m to build, which is £30m more than the maximum that will be available through Lottery funding, Moorcroft believes other funding will be in place by the time detailed plans have to be submitted to the International Amateur Athletic Federation in October next year.

"There are numerous pots of money available in places like the Government Office for London and the European Commission to make up the gap," Moorcroft said.

"There is going to be a mix of funding which will take a while to put together. Ultimately, of course, if we have to build something for £60m or £70m we will. But we have the opportunity to do something really exciting for a relatively small amount more."

Moorcroft's confidence rests on the fact that the Government is already committed to staging the 2005 World Championships. Having seen the 2006 World Cup bid fail, it would be severely embarrassed if another major sporting initiative were to collapse. Even worse, history could repeat itself with the event in question going to Germany once more - Berlin has already made it very clear that if London lets the 2005 Championships slip, they will gladly take it on.

Moorcroft ruled out the idea that a football team would be required as tenants to maintain Picketts Lock's long-term future. He is hoping the trustees of the Flora London Marathon will deliver financial support to maintain the site for athletics.

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