London

Coe hits back over Olympic East End shame claim

Claims by an MP that the 2012 Olympic marathon route was changed because organisers are ashamed of London's East End have been branded "ludicrous".

Labour MP Rushanara Ali criticised plans to move the marathon finish from the Olympic Stadium to the Mall.

She said organisers were "embarrassed and ashamed" to showcase the area.

2012 chairman Lord Coe said the main part of the Games would be in the east and insisted that the decision was made on operational grounds.

Ms Ali, MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, said that moving the marathon would be a "huge blow" to East End boroughs.

She said: "If LOCOG goes ahead with this proposal, the message they send to the world is 'while we are happy to use the vibrancy, dynamism and diversity of the east end of London to win the Olympics bid, we're embarrassed and ashamed to showcase the area and its people to the world'."

Lord Coe said: "This is not a beauty contest and it would be ludicrous to suggest that we are ashamed of the East End.

"We wouldn't have created an Olympic Games that in large part is delivered in the East End with all the legacies if that were the case."

He said organisers were trying to stage the marathon at the same time as other events without impinging on competitors or spectators.

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