Agreement reached on moving 2 London sports venues

An agreement on a change of venue for badminton and rhythmic

gymnastics that organizers of the 2012 London Olympics hope will

save tens of millions of dollars was reached after months of

negotiations.

Olympic organizers said Wednesday the two sports approved of a

move to Wembley Arena in north London. They were originally

scheduled to compete at a temporary venue in Greenwich near the

athletes’ village and Olympic Park in east London.

Due to the economic crisis, London organizers decided last year

to scrap the temporary facility in a move that will save about $28

million.

“It is sensible during these difficult economic times to make

use of an existing and well-established facility,” Sports and

Olympics Minister Hugh Robertson said. “Wembley Arena will be an

excellent venue for fans and participants of both sports.”

Officials for the two sports were concerned about the travel

time between the athletes’ village and Wembley, but organizers have

offered to house the athletes in hotels within walking distance of

the venue and find ways of shortening the journey.

A preliminary agreement on the move was announced last year, but

final approval required ratification by the two sports federations’

governing boards.

London organizing committee chairman Sebastian Coe thanked the

federations for the change.

“We will now work through all the detailed arrangements with

them and Wembley Arena to put on first-class events,” he said.

“This is a big boost to north London, which will be a hub for the

London 2012 Olympics.”

The move also was welcomed by the International Olympic

Committee.

“(The organizing committee) will be able to advance full steam

ahead with its planning,” said Denis Oswald, head of the IOC’s

coordination commission for London.