Badminton could move to Wembley for 2012 (pic)


Wembley is poised to play a much bigger role in the organisation of the 2012 Olympics than originally planned.

BBC London has learned that London 2012 officials have been looking for some time at scrapping their original plans to build a temporary arena near to the 02 to stage badminton and rhythmic gymnastics.

There had been proposals to move the two sports to ExCel indoor arena, which is already staging a variety of 2012 events, but there is not enough space.

Now officials are seriously looking at taking badminton back to the Wembley Arena, a spiritual home for the sport. The prestigious All-England championships were staged at the arena – which is right next to the outdoor stadium – between 1957 and 1993.

Given the currently financial crisis, it is clear that London 2012 needs to save money. This temporary arena was due to cost around £40 million. There are a few problems with limited space for back-of-house facilities which the Olympics needs but the Arena is perfect for sports like badminton because it holds around 6,000.

The credit crunch has put intense pressure on the £9.3 billion Olympic budget and officials accept they will have to raid more of the £2.7 billion contingency fund.

A statement from London 2012 organisers on Tuesday said: “Clearly in the current economic climate it is prudent to look at our temporary venues to see what other alternatives may exist using permanent structures. This process is underway.

“No decisions have been made and it is by no means definite that these sports will move but, in the current economic climate, examining all options is the sensible thing to do.”

Although the later stages of the football finals will be played at Wembley, the indoor Arena was originally dismissed as a 2012 venue during the bid because it was too far from the Olympic Village in Stratford and because it did not have enough space for the extra accreditation and hospitality facilities.

The one-hour travel time from the Village to the venue is still an issue but Olympic officials may be able to find solutions on the back-of-house issues. International badminton officials are likely to look favourably on the venue if there is enough lounge space for players to rest between games, a key issue for tournaments.

The International Olympic Committee would have to approve any change of venue but, in the current climate, they are unlikely to put up too much opposition if the governing body of the sport were in agreement.

There have also been reports Wembley Arena, which is used largely as a venue for pop concerts, could stage basketball but it is much too small for the larger crowds for the sport.

London 2012 officials are expected to keep to their plans to build a temporary arena in the Olympic Park for the early stages of the basketball tournament.


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