London 2012 chief defends planned marathon change

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.”