UK Government

Tower Hamlets, London Borough of (London): Bring back the Olympic marathon to the East End

News   •   Oct 05, 2010 12:24 BST

As hundreds of residents sign the petition to bring back the Olympic marathon to the East End, Tower Hamlets Council has criticised the decision and is threatening to use every tool at its disposal to reverse it.

A hard-hitting letter sent to Paul Deighton, the chief executive of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG), accuses the organisers of riding roughshod over the hopes and dreams of East Enders.

Their latest decision to re-route the marathon to west London means that Tower Hamlets will host no Olympic events - following the loss of the basketball in 2008 and the walking event earlier this year.

The letter states: "London won the Olympic and Paralympic Games because of the diversity and dynamism of east London's communities. The marathon is the best celebration of that diversity and dynamism as it takes place in the heart of east London's communities.

"There is no better way to celebrate and showcase London's ethnic diversity than to have the world's best athletes run past the mosques, churches, temples and cultural centres that make up the fabric of East End life.

"We believe this is a great backdrop to a great event. Indeed, the Olympic authorities also once thought this was the case. We do not believe it is credible for LOCOG to now send a message that it is ashamed of the very communities who helped London win the Games."

In a letter written in August, LOCOG outlined the reasons for the change of mind and said the decision was taken after several months of work and based on a combination of factors.

These include:

* detailed analysis of the potential traffic management implications of the original proposed route including impact on the Olympic route network - a network designed to ensure that the 82,000 athletes, officials and other members of the Olympic family can get to venues on time

* the Tower Bridge site proved incompatible in terms of size requirements for the start area

* the adverse impact on Olympic Park operations.

The council is challenging the rationale behind the decision as neither Tower Hamlets nor Newham councils were contacted about the potential traffic implications despite the roads being in the boroughs - LOGOC said they were not considered relevant.

"The suspicion will remain that LOCOG has adopted these reasons as cover for a preference to have a wealthier backdrop to this event," the letter says.

Kevan Collins, chief executive of Tower Hamlets Council, said: "We're 100 per cent behind the Olympic Games taking place in the East End, what we're not happy about is the fact that Olympic events are being taken away from us.

"We want to play our full part in the Games and we feel that the East End is the right and proper venue for the Olympic marathon.

"It's our residents that will have to put up with the disruption, and we feel that the removal of the Olympic marathon is the final straw."

The council will be investigating the matter further and looking into possible legal challenges.

The community campaign is led by Tower Hamlets Council, and a number of the other Olympic boroughs, along with local organisations and businesses, are also supporting the campaign.

Supporters can find out more about the campaign and sign a petition atwww.towerhamlets.gov.uk/olympics

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