BOA chief says London Olympic stadium must retain track

By Martyn Herman

LONDON (Reuters) - The British Olympic Association (BOA) has urged the London 2012 Olympic stadium legacy committee to honor the bid commitment and retain an athletics track after the Games.

Premier League soccer clubs West Ham United and Tottenham Hotspur are vying to move to the east London site and the Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC) will announce its recommended tenant this month.

West Ham propose reducing the stadium from 80,000 to 60,000 seats and retaining the athletics track while Tottenham's controversial bid proposes dismantling the track and building a football ground in its place.

Tottenham say athletics tracks are not suited to football stadiums and propose, instead, revamping Crystal Palace, the traditional home of British athletics.

"Our position is that we want the bid commitment to be met and that was for a track to be retained within the Olympic Park," BOA chief executive Andy Hunt told Reuters from inside the almost completed handball arena in east London on Wednesday.

"The OPLC should make the decision but we are clear, we backed the bid commitment and the decision should be in line with that. I'm sure the right decision will be made by those responsible for making it.

"Our commitment is that we always wanted a track in this country that can allow us to bid to host a world athletics championships and other big events."

The stadium's future has become the focal point of London 2012's legacy promises made during the capital's winning bid to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 2005.

REEDIE CONCERN

Tottenham's plan, backed by entertainment giant AEG, has been met with dismay by many in athletics while IOC executive board member Craig Reedie, one of the 2012 bid team, said Britain would "lose credibility" if Tottenham's bid was given the green light.

"The only correct long-term usage is to have a stadium which can be used as the center of future bids for major sports events, probably concentrating on what is the Olympic Games' leading sport," Reedie wrote in the Daily Telegraph.

"Let there be no doubt -- a track in the stadium was promised. Those who gave the undertakings, (former Olympic Minister) Tessa Jowell in the presentation, (LOCOG chairman) Sebastian Coe and myself, over many months of lobbying, worked hard to overcome the indecision and confusion of the past."

West Ham lost one potential vote on Wednesday when OPLC board member, the 1984 Olympic women's javelin champion Tessa Sanderson, was excluded from all matters relating to the stadium.

Sanderson has a personal consultancy contract with the London Borough of Newham which is partnering West Ham's bid for a multi-purpose stadium.

(Editing by John Mehaffey)