Boxing chiefs oppose new 2012 site- 16 Jun 2009 00:00:00
The International Boxing Association has announced its opposition to plans to relocate London 2012's Olympic fights to Wembley Arena in the north-west of the city.
AIBA officials opposed the plans after finding out the commute from the athletes' village in Stratford could take up to three hours.
Bouts are currently due to be held in ExCel Centre around five miles away from the main Olympic site.
Commented AIBA’s Richard Baker: ‘We are working with the organising committee to find a solution. We have expressed our concern. Discussions are ongoing but nothing has been signed, sealed and delivered as yet.’
The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) had hoped to shift boxing matches to allow badminton and rhythmic gymnastics to be staged at the ExCel, saving around £20m by scrapping plans for a 6000-seat temporary venue called North Greenwich Arena 2 to the south of the main Olympic site.
However a group of AIBA officials found that, even allowing for specially designated traffic lanes, estimates of journey times of 35 to 45 minutes were overly optimistic.
‘After trialling the journey themselves, our officials found that, depending on the time of day, it would take between one and three hours,’ added Baker.
‘We want to protect boxers' Olympic experience. It becomes a major concern when some delegations, made up of coaches and officials, have to make several trips in one day with different fighters.’
The International Olympic Committee must secure AIBA's approval for any change in venue and some fear the relocation may stretch the organisers' promise to have a compact, ‘athlete-friendly’ Games for the 286 fighters due to compete.