Olympic Games: London venues may relocate

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The Independent Online

The leaders of London's bid to stage the Olympic Games are poised to relocate as many as three proposed sports venues following criticism that their original plans would require too much travel for athletes.

The leaders of London's bid to stage the Olympic Games are poised to relocate as many as three proposed sports venues following criticism that their original plans would require too much travel for athletes.

The bid company is considering switching shooting, mountain-biking and fencing to venues in or near the site earmarked for the main Olympic Park near Stratford, East London, the proposed venue for 17 sports.

The proposals would answer criticism from the International Olympic Committee in a report last May that travel distances were "among the longest" of the cities competing to stage the Games in 2012. The report added that while transport serving the main park was adequate, connections to other venues would be "challenging" for athletes and spectators.

In the original blueprint it was proposed to stage the shooting 45 miles outside London at Bisley in Surrey, mountain-biking the same distance away at Swinley Forest in Surrey, and the fencing at Alexandra Palace.

The bid company has to balance the needs of athletes and spectators with the IOC's intention that the chosen city will offer benefits to the wider region.

There are no plans to relocate sailing or rowing from their proposed sites of Weymouth and Eton respectively.

London 2012 have ruled out any possibility of reducing transport time by creating a second athletes' village south of London in addition to accommodation for around 17,000 athletes next to the proposed Olympic park.

Travel times between venues were cited by the IOC as a potential weakness in the bid when it cut the field of candidates from nine to five on 18 May.

Also criticised were "often obsolete" rail services in Central London and polls suggesting low levels of public support.

London 2012 hopes to replicate the enthusiasm for sport during Euro 2004 in the run-up to the final decision in Singapore next July. A spokesman said: "There is a lot of respect for the way sport is followed in this country. It overrides claims that there is a lack of Government support or any debate surrounding the facilities."

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