• Athletics

London won't back down on athletics bid

ESPN staff
November 9, 2011
The Olympic Stadium will host the World Athletics Championships if London's bid is successful © Getty Images

UK Athletics chief Ed Warner insists there is no room for flexibility over their bid to host the World Athletics Championships in 2017.

London and Doha go head-to-head for the right to host the event at the International Association of Athletics Federations' vote on Friday. But such is the quality of both bids, the IAAF is reportedly considering awarding both cities the honour - for 2017 and 2019.

However, London only has financials guarantees in place for the 2017 bid, while awarding the 2019 event to Doha would be equally problematic, with Qatar bidding to host the 2020 Olympics the following year. But UK Athletics chairman Warner said awarding the 2019 edition to London was not an option.

"If you look at 2019, then you go into a completely different funding cycle," Warner said. "There would be a long, laborious and uncertain process involved in ensuring that we could put all that financial support together, so at the moment I can only be interested in 2017 for London because that is the financial coalition that I've got in place.

"The stars are aligned at the moment and this has to be London's time because we've got a stadium and we've got financial support from the city and the Government which has been the work of some months in bringing it all together."

Denise Lewis believes the hunger for athletics tickets at London 2012 is a sure sign the capital is the ideal host city for the 2017 event. Lewis, who won Olympic heptathlon gold in Sydney, believes London would be a popular choice with athletes.

"There's nothing worse than competing in an empty stadium and London has always delivered capacity crowds for athletics events," Lewis said in her column for the Daily Telegraph.

"We know the appetite for athletics is very high. When the Olympic tickets were put on sale athletics were one of the first to go. That creates an atmosphere and energy that competitors can relate to.

"The diversity of a London crowd make it unique. There are so many different tongues spoken in the capital that there is almost a fan for every athlete."

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