A compensation package has been agreed for Tower Hamlets, to even out the borough’s loss of the Olympics Marathon.
The agreement aims to make up for losses resulting from the decision to confine the 26.2-mile course to central London. As part of the deal, Olympic dignitaries will attend official curry nights in Brick Lane, to promote the area’s cuisine to an international audience.
London Games chief, Lord Sebastian Coe, and Tower Hamlets mayor, Lutfur Rahman, signed the agreement on Wednesday. This settlement is expected to result in the dropping of a legal action against The London Organising Committee (LOCOG), filed after the rerouting of the marathon left the borough without an event for 2012.
Bethnal Green & Bow MP, Rushanara Ali, has been fighting since September to switch the route back to its original proposal.
Reacting to the agreement, MP Ali said that if Lord Coe doesn’t decide to take back the decision: “He must ensure there are meaningful opportunities for local people to engage with the Games. This agreement appears to offer little more than what other Host Boroughs have already agreed”.
“Given what we in Tower Hamlets have lost – first hosting the Olympic Basketball and then the Olympic Marathon – I am not sure local residents will be happy with this backroom fudge” she said.
Polls show that almost half of Londoners still want the race to pass through Tower Hamlets, compared to just 27% preferring the new proposed route.
Ed Harris, a regular Tower Hamlets’ visitor, was dubious about the terms: “They want people from abroad to identify London when they see the Big Ben and other popular places. But curry nights instead sounds ridiculous. They should invest the money in things that are going to stay for the future and benefit of the community”.
Hannah Adler, a local resident, said: “It is a shame that they are taking possible businesses out of the area. The borough is already known by its curry houses so it will be nice if it’s also recognized by something else”.