Seb Coe insists athletics must stay at London Stadium amid talks to walk away from the capital

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The London Stadium may have hosted its last events in elite athletics  (AFP via Getty Images)
The London Stadium may have hosted its last events in elite athletics (AFP via Getty Images)

Seb Coe insists elite athletics needs to stay at London Stadium amid talks UK Athletics (UKA) could relocate its major events to Birmingham.

There will be no top-flight athletics at the former Olympic Stadium this summer in what is the 10-year anniversary of London 2012.

And discussions have begun between the stadium owners and UKA about a multi-million-pound payout to bring a premature end to the 50-year deal to host athletics at the venue.

World Athletics boss Coe, who was also the mastermind behind London 2012, said: “We want to keep a world-class track-and-field facility in London. I want London to remain a stopping point for international athletics.”

Should the deal to host athletics at London Stadium end, there is no other viable option for elite athletics in the capital. Crystal Palace National Sports Centre, which used to host such events prior to London 2012, has become increasingly neglected.

And were London to lose an elite athletics foothold, Coe said: “I’m very clear, we have to maintain, we should maintain a really world-class presence for track and field in London. It would be bizarre not to.”

The London Stadium has hosted the annual Anniversary Games – the UK’s leg of the Diamond League – in recent years as well as the 2017 World Athletics Championships.

And Coe warned that it might be harder to attract major events to the UK in future without it as a viable athletics venue.

“I think we have to recognise that the quality, the natural assets that London has in an Olympic stadium are still an attraction,” he said. “It’s a big asset, of course it’s a big asset.”

The former middle-distance runner said he had held brief discussions with both those at Queen Elizabeth Park and UKA but said he had no immediate intention to intervene in any future talks.

“I’m not going to speculate on that because I don’t know,” he said. “I’m sure that if UKA felt that I could be useful in that process, I’m of course happy to be. But nobody has actually spoken to me about that yet. I’m going to let this follow its natural course.”

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