LONDON – London 2012 chief Sebastian Coe says Britain's international reputation will be in tatters if the Olympic Stadium is turned into a soccer-only venue after next year's games.
Tottenham, which is competing with fellow English Premier League club West Ham to take over the venue, wants to tear down the 80,000-seater stadium after the Olympics and build a soccer-only arena on the site without a running track.
That would go against the pledge London organizers made in 2005 before the vote on the 2012 Olympics that the 60,000-capacity stadium would be a purpose-built home for athletics.
"It's really serious that we deliver on what we said we were going to deliver, unless we are prepared to trash our international reputation," said Coe, chairman of the London Games' organizing committee.
"If we don't, it would be very difficult for us to be taken seriously again for the foreseeable future in the corridors of world sport. We made legacy commitments and those commitments are really important."
West Ham would keep the track used for athletics and convert the stadium into a 60,000-seater venue for soccer, track and field, concerts and community use.
The Olympic Park Legacy Company, the body in charge of dealing with the stadium's future, could also go ahead with its original plan to downsize the stadium to a 25,000-seat athletics venue.
A decision on the preferred bidder is expected Friday. It would then need to be ratified by two government departments and the mayor of London's office.
Coe, a former British middle-distance Olympic champion, will have no say in the decision but put his weight behind West Ham's bid.
"There is a bid that delivers against the vision that we took to Singapore (for the 2012 vote against Paris) and we have a moral obligation to make (the vision) work," he said.
"The West Ham bid meets those commitments. I would have to vote West Ham."
Tottenham is proposing to retain an athletics legacy by redeveloping the Crystal Palace complex in South London, British track and field's current home.
"Strip out the emotion, take a step back and ask what's best for athletics — it's surely to have a dedicated facility that's available all year round rather than 20 days a year," Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy said Sunday. "I don't buy the argument of having somewhere to take your grandchild to reminisce on London 2012. What I buy is a dedicated facility which will always be the home of athletics.
"What we're offering is a dedicated 25,000-seater facility for athletics at its original home, with a roof and the ability to be expanded up to 40,000 to hold a World Championships. In terms of assets, we are absolutely over-delivering on the original proposal."
Those plans still don't satisfy Coe.
"I'm prepared to revisit my words that day (in Singapore), but I genuinely don't recall a whole heap about bulldozing down a publicly funded facility, replacing it with a Premiership football club and inspiring a generation of Tottenham season ticket-holders, however many there may be on a waiting list," Coe said.
"We must be really clear here. What we pledged in Singapore was not ambiguous. I took those words very seriously — I delivered them."