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First Base is the equivalent of an 'Editorial'. It is the opportunity for S & A to provide comment and provoke discussion on topical issues relating to leisure and tourism. This will be provided each month and we would welcome your feedback on the matters raised.

First Base 6: The Wembley way... To international embarassment

Date: 20/5/2004

Over the past 12 months the level of criticism levelled at the Organising Committee for the 2004 Olympic games in Athens has been of gold medal proportions. Accusations of ineptitude, woven with expressions of concern about the lack of progress on infrastructure and stadia development, have led to Ministers losing their jobs. IOC President, Juan Antonio Samaranch has strongly reiterated the Committee's support for the Athens team and its work. This was reflected in a review by S & A for the Greek newspaper "Gnomi" last Autumn.

Over the past 12 months the level of criticism levelled at the Organising Committee for the 2004 Olympic games in Athens has been of gold medal proportions. Accusations of ineptitude, woven with expressions of concern about the lack of progress on infrastructure and stadia development, have led to Ministers losing their jobs. IOC President, Juan Antonio Samaranch has strongly reiterated the Committee's support for the Athens team and its work. This was reflected in a review by S & A for the Greek newspaper "Gnomi" last Autumn.

Much of this criticism has emerged from Britain. It was interesting, therefore, to read the stinging words of The Daily Telegraph's Chief Sports Writer (Paul Hayward) and those of his colleague Mihir Bose, in The Telegraph of 6th February (www.telegraph.co.uk/sport). In this double feature entitled, "World Scorns Wembley Way", Hayward writes, "Every last member of the IOC, those corruption-scarred plutocrats, will remember this farce".

The farce that he and Bose refer to is, of course, the on-going fiasco that is the story of replacing Wembley. Influential IOC Member, Alex Gilady from Israel, has suggested that Britain should forget about a bid for the 2012 Games and concentrate instead on the 2016 Games.

Whilst Sir Rodney Walker and his team are trying to raise the 400m from the City, it is perhaps worth reflecting on the wider implications of the Wembley issue. Firstly, is it wise that so much emphasis has been placed upon a single feature of the case making for the bid?

Secondly, from Barcelona to Sydney via Atlanta, there has been enough experience to show that a clustering of facilities in a single location makes the Games more manageable in every respect. Clearly, Wembley does not have the potential to develop as a sports Campus and, as the main Olympic venue, will always be divorced from the other stadia and arenas.

Thirdly, past successful bidding campaigns have always had a champion strong leadership has been crucial and is, to date, absent in the British approach.

It seems that a more strategic approach is needed. In the words of Hayward, "The Wembley project began as a come-on to FIFA in the doomed bid to stage the 2006 World Cup and now the National Stadium fantasy is causing terrible damage to British Olympic sport... on the current evidence we will be lucky to keep the World Conker Championships".

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First base archive

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  • First Base 6: The Wembley way... To international embarassment
    Over the past 12 months the level of criticism levelled at the Organising... more

  • First Base 5: Attractions fight back
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