LONDON: The world’s top athletes will return to compete in London’s Olympic Stadium in July on the first anniversary of the opening of the 2012 Games.
The decision to stage London’s Diamond League meeting at the stadium on Saturday July 27 is part of efforts to ensure that the Olympic site in east London - funded by some nine billion pounds ($14.3bn) of taxpayers’ money - has a viable future.
Olympic gold medallists Mo Farah and Jessica Ennis welcomed the news that athletics was returning to the scene of their triumphs.
“The atmosphere was electric during the Games, I’ll never forget it, so it’s great that the British fans, and athletes, will get to experience that again so soon after the Games,” Farah said in a statement.
“It’ll be perfect preparation for the world championships in August (in Moscow),” he added.
Organisers are aiming to recreate the fevered atmosphere of “Super Saturday” when Ennis clinched Olympic gold in the heptathlon, Greg Rutherford won the long jump and Farah won the 10,000 metres. They are planning for crowds of up to 65,000 at the Grand Prix meeting which could extend into a second day.
The event had been scheduled for the smaller Crystal Palace Athletics Stadium in south London which had already begun selling tickets. It will return to Crystal Palace in 2014.
The area around the Olympic Stadium is being transformed into a public park and it will reopen to the public on that same anniversary weekend in July.
Britons basked in the global praise for the London Olympics and the medal haul enjoyed by the host nation.
However, lengthy wrangling over a new anchor tenant for the stadium has taken away some of the glow.
English Premier League side West Ham United are in talks with the London Legacy Development Corporation about moving in but the Premier League soccer club have yet to finalise a deal.
Music promoter Live Nation said this week it planned to stage a series of rock concerts at the Olympic Park and Stadium this year to help bring the venue back to life. REUTERS