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2012 marathon decision 'lets down' east London

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Adrian Warner | 11:17 UK time, Thursday, 23 September 2010

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I first heard about 2012's plans to take the marathon races away from east London and stage them around Buckingham Palace in mid-July.

I trusted the well-informed person who told me 'off the record' but I didn't run the story straight away for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, nobody would confirm this on the record and I needed that to make the story credible on the BBC.

Secondly, and more importantly, I thought it might just be what they call a kite-flying exercise. Throwing a wacky idea out there and waiting for a reaction.

Surely London 2012 organisers wouldn't be stupid enough to insult east Londoners in such a way, the people whose lives are being disrupted the most by the Games?

For many of them from less privileged backgrounds, having the marathon on their streets may be the only connection they can afford with the Games.

Well, I admit, I called it all wrong. I should have run the story because it has turned out to be true. 2012 really are that daft.

They won't finish the races in the olympic stadium like most of the six summer games I have attended. The Athens races finished in the 1896 Olympic Stadium.

The 2012 marathons will include three circuits around central London, starting and finishing on the Mall. I understand their logic. They want to show off London's great landmarks to the world and the big TV executives from America and Asia will love it, like they always do. Parts of east London, where the route would have gone, are scruffy but what an opportunity to tidy them up?

2012 still won't confirm all this and they haven't got all the approval yet from the athletics authorities. East London councils are trying to get them to change their minds but the races will stay in central London, I'm sure.

I just had a belief from all their talk that London 2012 wanted to put on a different sort of Games which highlighted all aspects of London and British life.

It was naïve, of course. 2012 won't be different. They are doing what every Games does - playing to the international TV cameras and not to the locals.


  • Comment number 1.

    TV rules and obviously they think that people watching would rather see the marathon go past the 'usual' postcard places 3 times than see more of London and its people. The London Marathon manages it... hang on a minute, a proven marathon course, in London? It would be stupid to use that, a bit like using London football grounds, good enough for top flight football, for the Olympics.

  • Comment number 2.

    This has not suprised me, so far what London 2012 organisers have said have been shown to be lies. Jobs were promised for local people and what happened when most of the jobs went to non locals, this along with other promises have been broken by the London 2012 organisers.What these people have forgotten is that the people of London will be paying for these games for years to come all because of the vanity bare face lies of the London 2012 organisers.

  • Comment number 3.

    I think this is terrible. Just snobbery, in my opinion. We've already got the London Marathon, this is meant to be different... The City will provide some great London landmarks and the marathon's long enough to go through lots of wonderful London highlights. I hope they change their mind!

  • Comment number 4.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 5.

    There is no chance you're going to get the very obvious juxtaposition of a pretty route that takes in the best of central London before the exciting end stages of the race all take place along the Mile End Road and the Bow flyover (or Poplar/Blackwall depending on route) before running through the tired, hodge-podge mess that is Stratford - it would make an apparent mockery of the bid's aim to regenerate East London when it's plainly (unfortunately) the same depressed and neglected area it's been for centuries. No amount of painting/refreshing will be enough, you can't disguise the grim aesthetic of the wider East End when you have multiple camera angles and overhead pictures.

    It should finish on the Mall and let the helicopter long-shots of the Olympic Park and Docklands perpetuate the myth that all is rosy and optimistic in East London.

  • Comment number 6.

    I guess the question might be: how much extra will the IOC get in media rights income?

  • Comment number 7.

    Most of the original proposed route was through central London anyway, including passing Buckingham Palace 3 times. I can't really see what LOCOG will gain from not finishing in the Olympic stadium? Would it bring more a greater tv audience? Anyway, I've run the London Marathon twice and the best crowds definately in East London.

    As an aside, as far as I’m aware the road cycling routes still haven't been confirmed. There were rumours that the international cycling federation wasn’t happy with the original routes. Perhaps the dead link to the “Regent’s Park” venue on the 2012 website is a sign…

  • Comment number 8.

    The comment about the original route being uninteresting is rubbish. It passes the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, the listed facade of the London Hospital, some fine Victorian buildings around Whitechapel station (as well as the vibrant market), Trinity Almshouses, Queen Mary College, Mile End Park and the Green Bridge and then the marvellous Victorian frontage of Bow Road - as fine a main road as there is in London. Furthermore, Tower Hamlets Council has spent millions on a project to improve the frontage with the express purpose of making it look good for the Marathon. It would be perfectly possible to have a route that took in the Mall and all the west London beauty spots - the race is 26 miles long, for heaven's sake and Tower Hamlets is probably only about 8 miles from Buckingham Palace.

    As Adrian says, this is a real lick in the teeth for the East End at a time when people are doing their very best to enthuse everyone about what we are to witness. Please try and join the campaign to make these idiots change their minds.


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