London 2012 Olympic marathon route a 'travesty'

Adrian Warner reports on the decision to move the marathon route

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An east London council has strongly criticised the 2012 Olympic marathon route after learning it will be confined to central London.

Most Olympic marathons end in the main stadium but organisers said infrastructure made a finish at the Olympic site in Stratford impossible.

Tower Hamlets Council described the new route as a travesty.

Map of the route

PDF download Proposed Olympic and Paralympic marathon route[1.38MB]

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The London 2012 Organising Committee (Locog) said it was one of its "hardest decisions".

The route replaces an original planned course which took in much of Tower Hamlets and the East End.

The new route passes Buckingham Palace, Birdcage Walk, St Paul's Cathedral and the Houses of Parliament.

'May be disappointing'

It is smaller than the annual London Marathon course and runners will go repeatedly around the circuit, enabling spectators to see athletes pass several times.

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The exact date of the marathon is yet to be confirmed.

Councillor Helal Abbas, Leader of Tower Hamlets Council, said Tower Hamlets had originally been promised three events would take place there - and now none would happen in the borough.

The basketball training facilities and walking race were also originally to be held there.

Mr Abbas said Tower Hamlets was getting all of the disruption but none of the benefits of the games.

Sebastian Coe, chairman of Locog, said: "This is one of the hardest decisions we have had to take - and we realise that this may be disappointing for Tower Hamlets.

Original planned route

PDF download Map of original planned route, according to Tower Hamlets Council[356k]

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"We have agreed with the leader of Tower Hamlets Council to develop a proposal creating more opportunities for the borough to be part of the games.

"The vast majority of the sporting action will take place in the Olympic Park in the heart of east London, and the brand new sporting facilities we leave behind will be transformational for east London."

When it was revealed the route would no longer finish at the stadium Rushanara Ali, Labour MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, claimed it was because organisers were "ashamed" of the East End.

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