Chiefs give London top marks for 2017 bid

ATHLETICS chiefs gave London a glowing review yesterday after they completed their visit to evaluate the city’s bid for the 2017 world championships.

Bob Hersh, senior vice-president of governing body the IAAF, led a delegation that spent three days in the capital before jetting out to rival bidders Doha.

American Hersh cited the overwhelming demand for tickets to the London 2012 Olympic Games as evidence of the city’s appetite for world-class athletics.

“We’ve been very pleased and impressed with what we’ve seen in London,” he said. “We’ve seen evidence of the commitment and enthusiasm of athletics fans – the demand for Olympics tickets shows that. The stadium is a world-class and state of the art one capable of holding a world championship. In general we’ve had a good visit.”

A legal row continues to overshadow the proposed handover of the stadium to West Ham after the Games, with Tottenham still disputing the decision. That has raised doubts over the future of the stadium as a mixed-use venue, but Hersh said the IAAF had been satisfied by government reassurances that the running track would remain in place. “We’re pleased to have that distraction off to the side,” he added.

The IAAF will vote on 11 November whether London or Doha, in Qatar, will host the two-week-long event.

UK Athletics chairman Ed Warner said that the presence of a football team tenant would not be an obstacle to a late summer championships.

“As long as we give two years’ notice we have the right to hold a major championships,” Warner said. “The onus is on the football club to do its thing with the Premier League to ensure their home fixtures don’t fall at the start of the season. We are the prime tenant through the summer.”