February 16, 2011 / 4:12 PM / 7 years ago

Peace declared over Olympic marathon route

LONDON (Reuters) - London 2012 organizers will no longer face legal action over the route for the marathon after striking a deal with a local council which had argued it could be left with no events, despite being in the shadow of the Olympic Park.

Tower Hamlets dropped its call for a judicial review after the London organizing committee (LOCOG) agreed to concessions on Wednesday, including better job opportunities for locals and helping schoolchildren become more involved at test events.

But just as one potential legal threat receded, another gathered momentum as Leyton Orient football club said it was consulting lawyers over the decision to allow West Ham United to inherit the main Olympic stadium after the Games.

Tower Hamlets had sought a judicial review after LOCOG decided to route the marathon around the capital’s landmarks, beginning and ending outside Buckingham Palace, bypassing the less picturesque east London.

Tower Hamlets had accused the organization of being “ashamed of the very communities who helped London win the Games.”

“There is no better way to celebrate and showcase London’s ethnic diversity than to have the world’s best athletes run past the mosques, churches, temples and cultural centers that make up the fabric of East End life,” it had said in a letter last year.

LOCOG insisted the re-routing from the main stadium would help traffic flow and be less of an impact on other sports taking place at the venue and across London.

On Wednesday, the two parties signed a letter of agreement which would give locals extra notice if jobs came onto the market, and give schoolchildren the chance of being involved in test events and ceremonies rehearsals.

“We’re 100 percent behind London 2012, and want to make sure that our residents gain the maximum benefit from the Games,” the Mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman, said in a statement.

“They will have to put up with a lot of the disruption that comes with hosting the biggest sporting event on earth, so it’s only fair that they get to share in the experience and reap the rewards.”

Meanwhile, Barry Hearn, chairman of League One Orient, is concerned that last week’s decision by the Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC) to choose Premier League club West Ham as its preferred bidder for the 486 million pound stadium could swamp its fanbase.

The Olympic stadium is situated closer to Orient’s Brisbane Road ground in east London than West Ham’s Upton Park.

“We are taking legal advice ... Has consideration been given by the government, by the Olympic Legacy people to the future sustainability of Leyton Orient Football Club, never mind West Ham?” he asked on Sky Sports News.

West Ham were chosen over rivals Tottenham Hotspur which wanted to tear out the athletics track and redevelop the site as a purpose-built soccer stadium.

A final decision on the stadium will be made by the government and Mayor of London Boris Johnson before April 1.

Additional reporting by James Illingworth - Editing by Steve Addison

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