UK Athletics chief brands Olympic Stadium re-opening delay a 'farce'

The London Legacy Development Corporation announced that the venue will not be available for use until 2015 at the very earliest, and Ed Warner is angered by the situation

UK Athletics chairman Ed Warner has called the delay in re-opening the Olympic Stadium “a farce”.

The stadium, which West Ham are bidding to acquire, was originally expected to be opened again in 2014 for events such as Diamond League athletics meetings and school competitions.

But the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) have now announced that the earliest for a re-opening will be 2015, possibly even 2016.

Although he is not too concerned about the potential for causing problems for the 2017 World Championships, Warner fears the delay could affect events already planned for 2014.

Warner told reporters: "My biggest concern is that we have some major events planned for that stadium and we thought they were going to be from the summer of 2014 onwards.

"All of the legacy use was scheduled to start in two years' time and now it might be four years' time which strikes me as ludicrous and to be a paralysis of decision-making which I hope the mayor [Boris Johnson] is going to cut through.

"I wouldn't say this is a Whitehall farce but this is fast becoming a Stratford farce.

"We want to lock into the legacy of the Games while people still remember the Mobot, Greg Rutherford, Jonnie Peacock and David Weir.

"Let's have a bit of imagination here and let's have a decision - we want one, West Ham want one and we all want it open as soon as possible."

West Ham’s are still favourites to acquire the stadium for the long term, but the club are hoping to have retractable seating positioned over the running tack at no extra cost to themselves, with the conversion likely to cost somewhere in the region of £200 million.

Warner continued: "We know the 2017 world championships will be fine because that is a contractual commitment we have made. The question is how quickly can this be done.

"There is a commercial negotiation going on with West Ham and it's a question of how quickly the Mayor and the Legacy Company can close the gap.

"There is a package on the table which includes the conversion costs that were built into the budget and a contribution from the local authority and some money that West Ham might put into it, and then there is the bill for all the things they would ideally want to do to have what they would see as a modern stadium."