Lord Coe backs West Ham Olympic stadium plans

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Lord Coe today offered passionate support for West Ham's bid to take over the 2012 Olympic Stadium.

London 2012 chairman Coe declared there is a "moral obligation" to ensure that the arena retains a multi-sport legacy when the decision is made on its future on Friday.



West Ham, in a joint bid with Newham Council, want to create a 60,000-capacity facility for football, athletics, concerts and community use.



Tottenham have pledged to create an athletics legacy elsewhere by contributing to the refurbishment of the National Sports Centre at Crystal Palace, with the Olympic Stadium used solely for football.



One of the key promises London 2012 made to the International Olympic Committee when it won the right to stage the Games was that the arena would remain multi-sport.



"This is about our ability to be taken seriously again in the corridors of world sport," Coe told BBC Radio 5 Live's Sportsweek.



"There is a bid that delivers against the vision that we took to Singapore and we have a moral obligation to make it work.



"It's not beyond the wit of all of us to make this work and we have an obligation to make it work.



"The West Ham bid meets those commitments. I would have to vote West Ham.



"I find it inconceivable that grandparents will take children back to a Premiership football ground, stand among the tiers of sponsorship boxes and say actually somewhere among this lies dormant the memories of Jessica Ennis or Usain Bolt reaching the heights of sport.



"It just does not smell right to me."









Coe stressed that Britain's reputation is at stake in the decision over the future of the stadium and warned of the consequences should London 2012's commitment to retaining a multi-sport legacy be ignored.



And he offered the fallout from England's failed 2018 World Cup as another reason why he views it as crucial to honour the pledge he made in Singapore.



"It's really serious that we deliver on what we said we were going to deliver, unless we are prepared to trash our international reputation," he said.



"If we don't, it would be very difficult for us to be taken seriously again for the foreseeable future in the corridors of world sport.



"We made legacy commitments and those commitments are really important.



"In Zurich before Christmas, the upper echelons of English football were dismayed about the World Cup bid. I know because I was there.



"The British Prime Minister and future king were frustrated that were commitments were made to them that hours later didn't hold.



"We went into outrage just a few days ago at the thought that a winning World Cup bid could suddenly turn from a summer tournament to a winter tournament.



"But we can't comfortably camp out on any of that territory in future if we get this decision wrong."



Coe stressed there is no grey area in the promise London 2012 made in order to secure next year's Games.



"The bid was very clear and unambiguous. This was a community facility, multi-sport, track and field," he said.



"I remember a lot of things about that day in Singapore when we nudged across the line.



"I remember delivering a vision to leaders of world sport about a generation of young people being inspired to take up Olympic sports.



"I remember talking about young people in east London fashioning their futures through sport.



"I'm prepared to revisit my words that day, but I genuinely don't recall a whole heap about bulldozing down a publicly funded facility, replacing it with a Premiership football club and inspiring a generation of Tottenham season ticket holders, however many there may be on a waiting list.



"We must be really clear here. What we pledged in Singapore was not ambiguous.



"I took those words very seriously - I delivered them."







West Ham's vice-chairman Karren Brady echoed Coe's view that the nation's credibility in world sport hinges on preserving the site for multi-sport use.



"It would be a crying shame if the stadium were to be built on the back of a promise made in the Queen's name only to be pulled down," she told BBC Radio 5 live's Sportsweek.



"This is not about football, it's about legacy. We stood up, we made a promise, we looked people in the eye and we said we'd so something.



"We need to keep that promise. With the 2018 World Cup bid people looked us in the eye and made us a promise and let us down. We know how that feels.



"Our standing in world sport if we say one thing and do another will take a crushing blow.



"Spurs' bid is the equivalent of building 100 new primary schools and then bulldozing each and every one of them four weeks after they've been built.



"An athletics world championships will never happen in this country if the stadium is pulled down.



"It's a complete myth the stadium will lack atmosphere."



Brady denied West Ham, whose average attendance in the Premier League this season is 33,302, will struggle to fill a 60,000 capacity stadium.



"We are currently limited by our size and that's why the gates are the size they are," she said.



"One of the criticisms levelled at Premier League football is that it's unaffordable for people to watch."



That's why our proposal includes tickets for schools so that all children can experience the Olympic Stadium, whether it's athletics or football being put on.



"Spurs have a 34,000 season ticket waiting list but we have 17,000 people on the waiting list at West Ham, so it's disrespectful to say we won't be able to fill it.



"We will fill it, but by being true to the legacy."

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