01 February, 2011

Michael Johnson:"The (2012) Olympic Stadium should inspire future Olympians, remain a multi-purpose/athletics stadium and NOT be knocked down after the 2012 Olympics:" with thanks to the "London Times"

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The clock says it all: Michael Johnson's finest achievement:  200m in 19.32secs: 1996 Atlanta Olympics
The 1996 double Olympic champion says there is no room for debate in the row about whether the 2012 stadium should keep its track
Over the past several weeks I have watched the London Olympic Stadium issue, and the two bids from West Ham United and Tottenham Hotspur, with great interest. My position is really quite simple. The stadium should remain an Olympic stadium and it should include a track.
London's 2012 Olympic Stadium is very near completion
Obviously, a stadium constructed to host the entire world for the biggest sport spectacle in the world might need to be scaled back a bit after the Games to be more versatile and practical for multisport use.
The idea of tearing down a perfectly good and very expensive stadium to replace it with another stadium, with a single purpose and then to spend additional money to refurbish another stadium for the right to tear down the Olympic Stadium seems a total waste.
I’m sure the typical response to my position would be that I am only viewing the situation as a former track athlete with a predictable bias toward the West Ham bid that includes the track. Of course, I would love to see the Olympic Stadium remain and include the track.
The Atlanta Olympic Stadium, where I had my greatest moment, no longer exists and that is honestly very sad. It’s sad that I can’t take my son to Atlanta and let him run around the track and tell him about my experience there in 1996.
The 1996 Atlanta Olympic Stadium in its current guise
The 1996 Olympic Stadium has been converted to a baseball stadium, the home of the Atlanta Braves. From a business perspective, maybe it made sense.
There have been enough Olympic stadiums built that never saw much use after the Games were concluded, but Atlanta devised a plan to ensure that not only would that not happen, but their plan also served to offset some of the cost of the Games through the plan to sell the stadium to the Braves after the Games.
In the case of London, it was part of the London 2012 bid that the stadium would remain and the track would remain in the stadium. The bid was based on the promise of leaving a sporting legacy, and that means more than just leaving a track stadium on the other side of town from where the Olympics actually took place and with no real connection to the Olympics.
Sebastian Coe: Gold medalist at the 1980, '84 Olympics
The legacy that Sebastian Coe spoke of in Singapore in 2005 when bidding for these Games was a legacy that not only provided sporting facilities for young people to learn and play sports, but a legacy that also provided lasting inspiration to young people.
As sad as it is that my son can’t run around the 1996 Olympic Stadium and relive the moment of his father’s greatest moment, it is even more sad that kids living in Atlanta pass by the stadium that is home to the Atlanta Braves every day and they are not inspired by hundreds of people from all over the world having competed and watched some of the world’s greatest athletes perform there while taking part in the biggest sports spectacle in the world.
Those kids can only be inspired to possibly pick up a baseball bat and take up baseball, the most American of all sports. Because the Olympic Stadium is the venue for the opening and closing ceremonies and home to the Olympic flame during the entire 16 days of the Games, in addition to athletics, one of the premier sports of the Olympics, taking place in the stadium, the Olympic Stadium is the greatest icon of an Olympic Games.
The Greatest Show on Earth: Olympic Games Opening Ceremony
London has a real chance of hosting other track and field events such as World Championships and European Championships, and junior athletics events as well. These events would provide additional uses of the stadium, as well as the economic and all the benefits that come with the hosting of events of that magnitude.
Additionally, those events could inspire not only those athletes who would have the opportunity to compete in the Olympic Stadium, but also those young people who would have the opportunity to be a spectator in the Olympic Stadium, watching athletes compete.
This is all about legacy and a promise that was made that should not be broken.
International Olympic Committee President:  Jacques Rogge
This stadium has the ability to take a sport and create numerous opportunities in the sport of athletics and to create new British champion athletes for years to come. It takes more than just a stadium to do that. The Olympic Games are special. The history and scale of the Games make them special. The monument to the Games and the icon of the Games, the Olympic Stadium, should stand as a tribute to those Games. The IOC should actually mandate that any bid must include a plan to maintain the Olympic Stadium along with a mandate that there be a plan to utilise the stadium in the future.
Some of my first races when I started my international sprinting career were in Olympic stadiums. It was a very special feeling just to walk into the Olympic stadiums in Berlin, Munich and Stockholm.
Those stadiums are monuments and the IOC should take care to ensure that those monuments are retained.

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