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Fight heats up for East End's Olympic marathon

PUBLISHED: 16:07 30 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

THE backlash against plans to re-route the Olympic marathon out of east London hotted up this week with former Games minister Tessa Jowell weighing into the debate.

Jowell has demanded East End residents be given the “front row seat” they were promised during the Games bid.

Her comments follow revelations last month that Olympics organisers were considering re-routing the televised race from ‘dull’ east London to the ‘iconic’ west.

The marathon has traditionally finished at the Olympic stadium and under the original plans competitors would have raced from Tower Bridge to Stratford.

But organisers are now keen on beginning and finishing the race at The Mall, taking in Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square and the Square Mile.

Jowell has now suggested a meeting between organisers LOCOG and Tower Hamlets and Newham councils (both of which have made official complaints about the move).

She said: “I think it is important to get everyone around a table to explore whether there is any alternative that gives Tower Hamlets the front-row seat that its residents expected.”

Canary Wharf group has also added its name to the list of objectors, signing a Tower Hamlets Council petition against the plan.

Howard Dawber, strategic adviser at Canary Wharf Group, said: “The people of east London deserve a chance to see these elite athletes competing on their streets.”

High-profile East London regeneration agency, the London Thames Gateway Development Corporation (LTGDC), also hit out at the plan.

The group, which is behind the £10million revamp of Stratford High Street, said the controversial proposal was: “A missed opportunity to promote the region as a key investment destination to international investors.”

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