Olympics head quit because of 'politics'
Wednesday 01 November 2006
The American engineer tasked with building the London Olympics has admitted he resigned due to political interference.
In an interview with his local paper published yesterday, Jack Lemley, 71, from Idaho gave a different explanation of his departure to the official line when he resigned 10 days ago as chairman of the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA), which is responsible for building Games venues.
Lemley, who oversaw the Channel Tunnel project and has vast experience in major public works across the globe, added that the 80,000-capacity Olympic stadium was "not compatible" with plans to convert it after 2012 into a football stadium. The centrepiece Olympic venue is increasingly thought to be the future home of West Ham United. "A football field is not compatible with an athletic stadium," Lemley told the Idaho Statesman.
He added that the process of purchasing land and the compulsory relocation of businesses from the 500- acre Olympics Park near Stratford had driven him from his job.
"Some of the people were happy to move and some of them weren't. In any event there was a huge amount of local politics. Those are the kind of things that confuse and frustrate the process."
Lemley insisted that he was returning to the United States for purely business reasons. He said he was "increasingly busy with major contracts", and was confident London would stage a "superb" Olympics.
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