August 4, 2012 / 8:50 PM / 5 years ago

London legacy shows Olympics is not just for rich: Coe

LONDON (Reuters) - London’s focus on legacy will help dispel the image of the Olympics as an exclusive event which costs a fortune to stage but offers little lasting benefit to the hosts, London Olympics chief Seb Coe said on Saturday.

Olympic Games Chief Seb Coe greets members of the public near the Olympic stadium in London July 28, 2012. REUTERS/Neil Hall

Ever increasing amounts of money have been spent on staging bigger and more spectacular Olympic Games, with some host cities being left with huge bills and unused stadiums.

London’s Olympic stadium in the east of the city has attracted plenty of interest, however, from football teams such as the Premier League’s West Ham to the possibility of it playing host to motor racing events.

London’s bill trebled to 9.3 billion pounds ($14.51 billion) from its initial estimate, but Coe, chairman of the London organizing committee (LOCOG), told Reuters the city had avoided the scenario where cost outstrips value.

He said 75 pence of every pound spent on creating the Olympic Park went towards providing a legacy for a previously run-down and neglected part of east London.

“I think that we’ve done a lot actually, if I may say so, in this country, to slightly trim that,” he said, when asked if the Olympics had become a rich man’s club.

“You have to make a very clear distinction here between cost and investment.”

He said LOCOG had used existing venues where possible, and built temporary and permanent ones only where needed.

The permanent venues were built with a business, community and sporting legacy in mind, though tenants are still being sought for the stadium and the press and broadcast center.

Half of the Olympic village has been sold to a Delancey and Qatari Diar joint venture, with the other half purchased by joint venture Triathlon Homes for affordable housing.

The wave-shaped aquatics center and multi-use handball arena will be operated by local Greenwich Leisure Limited.

“If you look at the way we have created the Olympic Park, it is not just 16 days of sport, but, you know, home for generations of Londoners for years to come,” Coe added.

He said conversations were already taking place with other host cities and with the organizers of the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games about transferring some of its temporary venues.

($1 = 0.6411 British pounds)

Editing by Matt Falloon

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