(P.91) Livingstone to run with the Palace baton

Croydon Advertiser 2 November 2001

by Scott McLean, Political Reporter

The dream of hosting the World Athletics Championships at Crystal Palace was given fresh hope this week.

While there appears to be almost no chance of Crystal Palace, or indeed London, hosting the games in 2005, it is possible that the event could be held in the capital in 2007.

Ken Livingstone, the Mayor of London, said this week:

"I have made it clear to the government that I am happy to support and co-operate fully with any renewed efforts to find a London venue to host the World Athletic Championships in 2007. Crystal Palace would clearly be one of the options for such a venue. I have asked the London Development Agency (LDA) to review whether there is more we could do to promote and assist with this way forward."

The Mayor was responding to question by GLA member for Croydon and Sutton, Andrew Pelling, about trying to persuade the sport's governing body, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), to hold the event at Crystal Palace.

A concerted cross-party effort by Bromley and Croydon councils was made last month to bring the games to the historic sports centre when it became apparent that the preferred Picketts Lock venture, in north London, was falling through.

Unfortunately, the government scuppered this attempt by suggesting Sheffield as an alternative.

But the IAAF flatly refused, insisting it had to be held in London or the bidding would be reopened to find another host city in another country.

At the time Mr Livingstone seemed lukewarm towards Crystal Palace as an alternative, but responding to Mr Pelling he said:

"Whilst I fully supported the Picketts Lock proposals, it always seemed to me that Crystal Palace was a natural alternative. The LDA has undertaken considerable work with the London Borough of Bromley and others and has concluded that Crystal Palace would indeed be a good alternative to Picketts Lack."

However, he added that the government had rejected Crystal Palace aver concerns about transport and athlete accommodation, despite the GLA offering various solutions.

Mr Livingstone's positive comments were welcomed by Mr Pelling who said:

"I am pleased that Crystal Palace, the natural venue for a London IAAF world championships bid, is still on the Mayor's agenda even if we are now looking at a date in 2007."

The news was also greeted warmly by one of the project's key proponents, Croydon Council leader, Cllr Hugh Malyan (Lab, Beulah), who said:

"We would be delighted to work with Mr Livingstone, and anyone else for that matter, to bring the games to the Palace for 2007. Whatever happens we remain committed to ensuring the refurbishment and redevelopment of Crystal Palace into a 21st centtury facility that is both good for athletics and good for the local area.".

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10/11/01 Last updated 10/11/01