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Badminton officials reject London 2012 venue switch

Last Updated: Saturday, September 19, 2009 - 00:01

London: Badminton has become the latest sport to reject a possible money-saving switch to Wembley Arena at the 2012 London Olympics, with a senior official saying on Friday such a move would diminish the Games experience.
Badminton England, which is hoping to win two medals at 2012, said the travel time across London to the stadium in the northwest of the city would damage athletes` performance.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson wants to move badminton and rhythmic gymnastics from a proposed temporary venue near the Olympic Park in east London to Wembley to save 40 million pounds in construction costs.

Johnson is alarmed the Olympic budget has spiralled from an initial estimate of 2.4 billion pounds to 9.3 billion and has rejected plans to build the 6,000-seat North Greenwich Arena 2.

"Everyone knows our intention is to stay in the Olympic Park or be as close to the Park as we possibly can," Adrian Christy, chief executive of Badminton England, told Reuters.

"We are not encouraging conversation about using Wembley Arena because we do not believe it is the right arena for us."

He said the sport had the backing of its international governing body, the Badminton World Federation (BWF).

Move Rejected

Boxing has already rejected a similar move after it was threatened with a switch from the ExCel centre in east London.

Organisers wanted boxing moved to make way for badminton and rhythmic gymnastics but the amateur International Boxing Association (AIBA) said a satellite village would have to be built at Wembley to prevent boxers having to travel continually across the city for weigh-ins.

The mayor`s office has said 20 million pounds could be saved if badminton and rhythmic gymnastics were moved, and if shooting was switched from Woolwich Barracks in southeast London to Barking in the east of the capital.

"I think the mayor`s position is quite clear," the mayor`s Olympics adviser Neale Coleman told the a British news channel.

"I don`t think he thinks anyone will understand why on earth we would spend tens of millions of pounds on putting up something temporary which will be scrapped after the Games when we have such a good facility as Wembley."

"I don`t think the public will understand at a time when everyone knows we need restraint in public spending that we should be spending money unnecessarily on what is already a huge investment programme for the Olympics."

Public spending is under the microscope in Britain as government borrowing reaches record levels.

The mayor`s office is contributing 1.175 billion pounds to the overall Olympics budget.

The dispute is a concern with the Games less than three years away and the International Olympic Committee having said in December it wanted all venues to be confirmed by last March.

Bureau Report

First Published: Saturday, September 19, 2009 - 00:01
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