Olympics

London 2012 chief defends planned marathon change

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LONDON (AP)

London 2012 chairman Sebastian Coe defended plans to move the Olympic marathon route away from the main stadium and into the heart of the capital.

Marathon runners would avoid the streets approaching the stadium in Stratford, east London.

''This is not a beauty contest and it would be ludicrous to suggest that we are ashamed of the East End,'' Coe said Tuesday. ''We wouldn't have created an Olympic Games that in large part is delivered in the East End with all the legacies if that were the case.''

Instead, competitors are set to run near London landmarks including Buckingham Palace and the Houses of Parliament.

''This is a purely operational issue,'' Coe said. ''This has nothing to do with iconic landmarks, or with the East End of London or with broadcasting.

''It's about the staging across 16 days of effectively 52 individual world championships and trying to create the matrix that allows you to have a marathon at the same time as other events without cutting across the ability of the competitors and spectators to get there.''

Coe said the torch relay before the Olympics will go through east London.

''It should be a much more impactful moment than a small marathon field running through that borough,'' Coe said. ''The Olympic marathon is not like the London Marathon - the field is only about 100 runners.''

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