Olympics bid must reach beyond east London

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The Independent Online

As a veteran member of the International Olympic Committee said that London's 2012 Olympic bid may be damaged if too much emphasis is placed on staging the Games in the east of the city, Britain's Olym-pic hopefuls heard that Sport England would be cutting its funding to 40 schemes by £31m.

Alex Gilady, an Israeli who has lived in London for 20 years, said the bid should include more widely recognised western and central areas of the city. Stratford, a brown-field site in the lower Lee Valley, is where the Olympic stadium, aquatics centre and athletes' village would be sited.

"If everything stays in east London, I think it is less attractive to many members because they want to see what west London has to offer and what London as a whole can offer to the world as part of an Olympic project," said Gilady.

Sport England announced the cuts after an eight-month review of its finances. It was forced to go back on the decision to fund the 40 affected schemes after a fall in Lottery income, which it distributes. A further 57 projects will be referred back to new regional sports boards for more work to be done on the proposals.

But 108 projects worth £88m were given final approval, the largest being a £3m investment in the Portland Sailing Academy in Weymouth. The review was carried out by the chairman, Patrick Carter, who froze funding when he took over in December. In addition, staff numbers have been cut from 570 to 240, saving £12m a year.