Sebastian Coe calms fears over World Championships bid

By Dan RoanBBC sports news correspondent
Olympic Stadium
London wants to hold the 2017 World Athletics at the Olympic Stadium

Lord Coe says Britain's bid to stage the World Athletics Championships will not be affected by the ongoing legal battle over the Olympic stadium.

Tottenham and Leyton Orient have won a judicial review into the decision to allow West Ham to take over the venue.

The review will take place on 18 October, just three weeks before the IAAF vote on a host for the 2017 event.

Locog chairman Coe said: "The process hasn't altered, the Olympic Park Legacy Company process is absolutely clear."

On Wednesday, a High Court judge found in favour of Spurs and Leyton Orient, who argued that a £40m loan to West Ham from the London borough of Newham constituted "state aid" and warranted further examination.

A bid for the 2017 World Athletics Championships is regarded as essential to providing a proper athletics legacy after the Games.

While West Ham plan to retain a running track in the stadium, Spurs have always insisted such a proposal is not viable, instead preferring a dedicated football facility.

If Spurs win their legal battle, any bid for the championships would appear to be jeopardised.

But the government has now given guarantees that the running track will be retained regardless of the outcome of the judicial review.

"The reality of it is the minister [of sport, Hugh Robertson], the mayor [of London, Boris Johnson], government and the mayor's office want the track, they want the Olympic legacy and they want to support the World Athletics Championships and we have the paperwork in place," added Coe.

When asked if athletics' governing body should be worried about whether the track would exist in 2017, Coe insisted they had no need to be concerned.

"I think the IAAF are satisfied by the confirmation by the minister, and confirmation from the mayor and from the minister face-to-face with the president of my federation, that they are fully committed to maintaining the track and staging the World Athletics Championships," said Coe.

"The bid document will be handed over by UK Athletics in the next few days."

UK Athletics chairman Ed Warner also believes London's bid will not be derailed by the stadium's uncertain future.

"We are supremely confident in our position, so to my mind all that's going on at the moment is background legal noise. Whatever the outcome of that process there is going to be a track in that stadium and that's what matters and that's the commitment we're making to the IAAF."

Previous bids from Britain to stage the World Championships in 2001, 2005 and 2015 all fell through, but Warner does not believe that will be held against the 2017 bid.

"We've spoken to a lot of the IAAF council members in the last few months," added Warner.

"They all understand the past is the past and I think they all appreciate the work we and Seb and others have done to ensure the Olympics does leave a genuine athletics legacy.

"If anything it might in a very small way count in our favour in that we're showing I think a degree of tenacity to be back with a great bid."

Meanwhile, West Ham say they remain confident of moving into the Olympic Stadium.

"We acknowledge that the final hurdle of a judicial review against the London borough of Newham and the OPLC in relation to West Ham United being the preferred bidder for the Olympic Stadium has been granted on a very narrow basis," the club said.

"We remain confident that Newham and the OPLC will be successful in defending limited points regarding the £40m loan that is being made to the Legacy Stadium Partnership.

"We look forward to 18 October and a successful conclusion whereby we can deliver the multi-sport legacy that Lord Coe envisaged for east London and the rest of the nation."

Spurs remain in negotiations with the Mayor of London over a compromise that would see them drop their legal challenge.

Talks over an agreement that would provide the club with a multi-million pound cash injection to help them move to a new stadium next to their White Hart Lane home are "progressing" according to sources.

But even if Spurs abandon their fight, Leyton Orient have vowed to continue with the judicial review.

Chairman Barry Hearn said: "This is a great day for the little man - we haven't won the war but we have won a major battle.

"Now we will at least get the opportunity for our case to be heard. We feel we've been totally ignored in the process so far, and that can't be right."

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