Athletics board backs Coe over 2012 marathon

Aerial image of the Olympic Park. Photo: London 2012

The governing body for the world’s top athletes has backed London 2012’s decision to change the location of the Olympic marathon finish line.

The International Association of Athletics Federations yesterday signed off the final arrangements for the London 2012 Games. The arrangements confirm that the Olympic marathons will only extend as far as Tower Hill; a move that has caused anger among Tower Hamlets residents and MPs who were originally promised the route would pass through their borough.

The confirmation comes just two days after the mayor of Tower Hamlets vowed to continue a legal case against London 2012.

On Friday, London 2012 committee chairman Lord Coe announced that the International Olympic Committee had rubber-stamped a new, central London route that excludes Tower Hamlets.

A day later, it was confirmed that despite the IOC’s decision, the borough’s mayor, Lutfur Rahman, would not be dropping his legal challenge to the route change.

A council spokesperson said that Mr Rahman would still be seeking a judicial review and that the IOC’s decision would have “no effect” on his determination to bring the marathon back to the East End.

Lord Coe has insisted that the committee’s decision is final, and some media outlets are suggesting that the IAAF ruling sets the route in stone.

Denis Oswald, chair of the IOC’s inspection team, said he “understood the disappointment” felt in Tower Hamlets but said that the original route was not feasible. “We still have competitions running the day we have the marathon. The original route could have made athletes, judges or media late,” he said.

Discussions are taking place to compensate the borough with the torch relay or other events, Mr Oswald has said.

Last Tuesday a community group proposed a compromise in the form of a third route, dubbed the “People’s Route”.

The group backed Tower Hamlets council in their dissatisfaction with the 2012 committee’s favoured route, pointing out that it would represent the first time in Olympic history that the marathon had not ended at an Olympic stadium.

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