Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by Mr Bill Glad, General Secretary, London 2005 (Organising Committee for the proposed London IAAF WCA)


  This evidence has been compiled following the decision by the Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport to withdraw the Government's support for the Lee Valley National Athletics Centre at Picketts Lock and the submission of evidence by the Secretary of State and the Minister for Sport to the Committee on 16 October 2001.

  All those involved with the winning of the bid to bring the 2005 World Championships in Athletics to London and the organisation of the event are, naturally, disappointed with the decision and concerned about the impact it will have on athletics and sport in the United Kingdom. On behalf of London 2005, I welcome the opportunity to add to the evidence given by UK Athletics and the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority and to comment on the specific points below.


  In her evidence, the Secretary of State said that the 2005 World Championships in Athletics in London faced the prospect of being a substandard event. The reasons given were the same as her reasons for withdrawing the Government's commitment to the Picketts Lock Stadium project, namely the fact that upgrading of transport links could not be delivered in time and "even more pressing, the compound problem of athletes' accommodation".

  With respect, I believe the Secretary of State has not been properly briefed on this matter. She indicated that she based her decisions on the Carter Report but the team working on that project seemed determined not to develop an understanding of these particular issues and they overly discounted the available information to produce simplistic and incorrect conclusions.

  The spectator management strategy for the championships, developed by the respected transport consultants Oscar Faber, was based on the assumption that the rail infrastructure improvements would not be made in time for the championships. These plans were considered and passed as a part of the statutory planning process. On a tour of the site the IAAF General Secretary endorsed the plans. This issue is dealt with in detail in Chapter 5 of the evidence given by the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority.

  From an event organiser's point of view, the plans to have 48 per cent of the spectators arrive at "park and ride" centres near the M25 and another 14 per cent at the Tottenham Hale Underground station before coming into the stadium on shuttle buses, dropping off/picking up in the stadium car park (a system that was used successfully at the championships in Edmonton this year and will, I am informed, be the exclusive means access for 40,000 spectators at next year's Ryder Cup), would have been far preferable to on-site parking arrangements as it would have reduced the difficulties of moving athletes, VIPs, other materials.

  To summarise: from our point of view, the transport infrastructure upgrade was never part of the plan for the championships and the inability to deliver it in time is, therefore, a non-issue.

  Secondly, our plans for athlete accommodation were anything but a compound problem. The Carter Report's main issue was with transport between the athlete accommodation and stadium. There is an unwritten understanding that 30 minutes or less driving time is the target for organisers of the championships, though there have been cases where this has not been achieved. I have been driven from the Stadium to the Hatfield campus, using what may or may not be the best route, in 27 minutes in the slow lane during rush hour. When the IAAF General Secretary was informed of this, he was quite clear that the arrangements would be satisfactory. I might also add that, in the main, the athletes would have been travelling before the rush hour and against the flow of traffic leaving London, that the championships would have been staged in the summer holiday period when traffic is lighter and that it would have been possible to put traffic management arrangements in place.

  I have worked in some capacity at all but one of the IAAF's World Championships since 1983. After visiting the University of Hertfordshire campus in Hatfield and discussing the matter with the UK Athletics Performance Director, Max Jones, I was convinced that the whole scope of the arrangements for the athletes would have been a highlight of the championships in London. For the information of the Committee, the main attractions of basing the athlete accommodation in Hatfield were:

    —  The student accommodation (1,000 beds already built, 1,600 to be constructed in 2003, all in single rooms) would have been first rate and on two campuses that were a short walk from each other.

    —  Adjacent to the two campuses is the Galleria shopping centre with cinemas, restaurants and other entertainment opportunities.

    —  There are several good standard hotels in the near vicinity of the two campuses for teams that chose not to stay in the student accommodation.

    —  There are three training tracks, all within 15 minutes of the student accommodation. The campus also has all other required facilities for training and sports medicine.

    —  The close proximity of all the accommodation and training facilities meant that the co-ordination of transport would have been relatively simple.

  To summarise: the athlete accommodation arrangements would have been more than satisfactory and it is incorrect to say that they made the stadium or the championships unviable.


  In my opinion, the various risks and doubts that the Carter Report brings up have tended to cloud the debate on what should be the main issue discussed in the wake of this matter. We should not be arguing about details of the operation of the championships. With the right will all these could have been sorted out satisfactorily. Nor should we get caught up in the cost of the stadium. The difference between what was already available for Picketts Lock and what the Government was being asked to put in was accurately expressed by Mr Wyatt's technical term. [1]Nor should we be second-guessing the decision to move athletics from Wembley. That decision, right or wrong, was taken. Instead, we should be looking at the bigger issue of commitment and delivery.

  Two points that the Secretary of State made in her evidence struck me. The first was the need for decisions on major sporting events to be strategy-led, the second was the need for clarity as to the nature of Government involvement in big projects. She is right on both points. For all but the most commercially successful sports any society, represented by its Government, must make the strategic decision whether the tangible and intangible benefits of the sport justify investment in facilities and major events.

  This is the decision that the then Secretary of State Mr Smith took. In his presentation to the IAAF Council in April 2000, Mr Smith was very clear about the need for a legacy for athletics, including a home that was separate from football, and how the staging of the World Championships in Athletics would help in the achievement of that aim. He was thinking strategically and I believe he understood the need for Government involvement and the potential cost implications of delivering.

  The most important thing, however, is that Mr Smith, with the written endorsement of the Prime Minister, repeatedly made a commitment to the IAAF, to the sport and to the country. Once a commitment is made only the direst circumstances can justify going back on it. The IAAF do not understand what has changed in the UK since the award of the championships to London that has put us in such circumstances. In their view, we have a moral obligation to deliver the championships in London.

  The real issue that should be debated, therefore, concerns the damage to sport in the UK and the implications for the country of reneging on promises made by Government.


  I was asked by the Clerk to comment on the offer by the Government to stage the championships in Sheffield and the chances of Sheffield winning should a new bid be made.

  The IAAF has been clear from the beginning: the championships were awarded to London. In spite of statements which attempt to justify a view by looking at past editions of the Championships, the IAAF has also made it clear, starting with the time the late President Dr Primo Nebiolo informed the then Minister for Sport Mr Banks, that its forward looking strategy is to take the championships to major capital cities such as London, Paris, Berlin and Tokyo. On this basis, I do not believe that it is realistic to offer Sheffield as an alternative to London.

  With regard to making a new bid from Sheffield, apart from the fact that the city simply does not meet the IAAFs strategic requirements, the first three specific challenges that come to mind are:

    —  The stadium and associated facilities are not adequate and even with substantial investment would struggle to be called "state of the art" which is the requirement of the IAAF Event Organisation Agreement.

    —  During the World Student Games in 1991, the number and quality of hotels in the city was seen as a major problem. The IAAF would be aware of this (Dr Nebiolo was President of both the IAAF and FISU) and I expect they would look very closely to see if things had changed in the intervening decade.

    —  The IAAF would be aware that it became necessary for FISU to take legal action against the local organisers of the World Student Games before all aspects of the event contract were fulfilled.


  Finally, as someone who has spent the better part of my working life in the field of sport development, I would like to comment on the suggestion that sporting success can be achieved by focusing investment on grass root facilities and programmes while ignoring major events. To separate the two would be short-sighted. To suggest that this was the strategy Australia took from the mid 1970s until the Sydney Olympics in 2000 is to ignore the numerous major events they staged in athletics and other sports during that period and the unsuccessful bids by Brisbane and Melbourne for the Olympics prior to finally winning the Games in 1993. Make no mistake, they were pushing on both fronts.

  Major events create the demand for the facilities and programmes by inspiring and energizing new generations of participants. Ask anyone in tennis about the "Wimbledon Effect" each summer when thousands of kids crowd on to every available court in the country after the two weeks of the championships. The 10 days of the 2005 World Championships in Athletics were a once in a lifetime opportunity to do the same for athletics. The challenge for the country would have been to be ready to absorb and retain the influx of talent and enthusiasm by making the investment in the grass roots at the same time.

  I was also surprised at the statement to the effect that athletes do not particularly mind in which city they win their medals. "Home field advantage" is such a universally understood concept in sport that I am almost embarrassed to be informing the Committee about it. Winning medals in major events is sometimes the result of where the competition takes place. I think this can be made clear very quickly by considering the experience of Spain as illustrated in the table below:

Total medals won by Spain in all Summer Olympic Games 1898-1988
Medals won by Spain in the Barcelona Olympic Games 1992

  Moreover, by winning five gold medals in Atlanta in 1996, Spain demonstrated how hosting a major event can help to raise performance standards on a long-term basis as well.

  An even better illustration of how important where a competition is staged is to an athlete would be a video of the Women's 400 metres final at last year's Olympic Games. I challenge anybody to watch that and then say publicly that Kathy Freeman did not particularly mind that she was running in Sydney.


  In the evidence, a review of sport policy by the Policy and Innovation Unit was announced. On behalf of London 2005 I can say that we would be willing to provide evidence and otherwise assist in the process.

1 November 2001

1   "Diddly squat", Q166, evidence taken before the Culture, Media and Sport Committee on 23 October 2001. Back

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