London

Athletics head Warner's World Championships funds call

The head of British athletics has attacked the government and London mayor Boris Johnson for failing to provide enough support for the capital's bid for the 2015 World Athletics Championships.

The high-profile event would help secure a long-term legacy for the Olympic Stadium in east London.

Mr Johnson refused to underwrite the bid with London taxpayers' cash.

In a rare public outburst, UK Athletics chairman Ed Warner said Britain's bid had not had enough financial and political support to help it beat main rival Beijing in the vote in November.

'Fantastic prize'

"What I really need now is the mayor and central Government to get full-square behind this bid," Mr Warner told BBC London.

"The prize of one of the biggest sporting events in the world coming to London three years after the Games is enormous and the sporting legacy from that for the community and sport is a fantastic prize."

Ed Warner believes the mayor and ministers at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport are being hesitant because they are waiting for the government's Spending Review on 20 October.

"All the politicians are rather frozen in the headlights of the Treasury at the moment and here we are talking about an event in five years' time," he said.

"We need some politicians with vision and imagination for sport to bring the championships to London.

"We have every chance of winning."

The governing body of world athletics, International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), will make a decision on the 2015 championships at the end of November.

The IAAF is keen for bids to have the full financial and political backing of governments and local authorities.

That kind of support was a key part of London's successful bid for the 2012 Olympics five years ago.

But Mr Johnson said he was waiting to see whether the bid got support from the Government after the Spending Review.

"The problem is it costs £45m in government underwriting," he said.

"I'm waiting to see what central Government does by way of funding this bid.

"£45m in the current climate, when we are doing the Olympics, and we've got the Rugby World Cup coming in 2015, is a tough ask of [Chancellor] George Osborne.

"We in London can't do it on our own and £45m is a lot to ask from the taxpayer to support a world athletics bid in the current climate."

A Department for Culture, Media and Sport spokesman said: "We cannot commit funding ahead of the Comprehensive Spending Review on 20 October.

"After that we will have to make some tough decisions about how best we can support sport in this country with the finances available."

Although 2012 chairman Lord Coe is now a senior IAAF figure, Britain has had a troubled history with the IAAF regarding World Championships.

In 2001, the Labour government abandoned plans to stage the 2005 championships in London because ministers felt it would be too expensive to build a new Picketts Lock stadium in north London.

The withdrawal was a huge embarrassment for Britain.

The next World Athletics Championships take place in Daegu, South Korea, in 2011, before they visit Russian capital Moscow in 2013.

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