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East End snubbed by Olympic Committee

PUBLISHED: 15:47 20 September 2010

Athletes cast shadows as they compete in the men's marathon during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games

Athletes cast shadows as they compete in the men's marathon during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games

2008 AFP

OLYMPIC organisers have been accused of snubbing the 'ugly' East End in favour of the City and the West End.

In a rebuff that has sparked fury among East Enders, Olympic organisers are now considering moving the marathon – one of the few free events – from east London to the west.

The race has traditionally finished at the Games’ main stadium and original plans had plotted a path from Tower Bridge to the Olympic Stadium in Stratford.

But it was revealed last week that the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympics Games (LOCOG) are now keen on moving the blue ribbon event to west London, beginning and finishing at The Mall.

The new route would take in Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square and the Square Mile, which organisers believe will give the televised event an iconic backdrop.

It is believed the original route through the East End was considered too dull for viewers.

The move has drawn condemnation from East London Assembly Member John Biggs, who said: “This is a direct snub to east London. East Enders have borne the brunt of the disruption of preparing for the Games and will be inconvenienced further when the Games are here. And these plans will mean that now they won’t even be rewarded with this high profile free sporting contest in their streets.

“The main selling point of our bid was the life it would breathe into east London. It seems odd that the organisers want to turn their backs on the transformation they have helped to happen. Canary Wharf, the Stadium and Tower Bridge are all notable venues to make a marvellous backdrop for the East End.”

Mr Biggs also expressed concern the move would cost east London vital funding to tidy and clean its streets.

He said: “The benefits for east London were originally going to be manifold. Bit-by-bit we are seeing these improvement opportunities being taken away.

“The marathon would have entailed a spruce-up of East London roads but organisers are apparently too embarrassed of London’s poor boroughs and instead of bringing improvements would rather hide areas from the media.”

Newham Council has now made an official request that the marathon stick to its traditional route.

A London 2012 spokesman said: “We have not yet confirmed all the details of the marathon route, we are in the process of finalising all the details and we hope to announce an approved route shortly.”

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