THE Anniversary Games could be moved away from the London Stadium to avoid a £3milllion taxpayers’ bill.
The Diamond League meeting is set to take place on Tuesday July 13 in front of 20,000 fans as part of the final preparations for Team GB stars before the Tokyo Olympics.
Sprinter Dina Asher-Smith, the reigning 200m world champion, is believed to have signed up to compete at the event before flying to Japan.
Yet a public row has developed between UK Athletics and the London Legacy Development Corporation about the prospect of staging the meeting away from West Ham’s home ground.
Gateshead or Manchester are two viable options to step in given Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium is subject to a major overhaul for the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
In a statement, the LLDC said: “Like many venues, the Covid pandemic means London Stadium will not host the usual summer events in 2021.
“For the Stadium, and ultimately the taxpayer, to face costs of around £3million to prepare for just for one evening of athletics rather than the full summer calendar seems disproportionate in these extraordinary times.
“We’ve reached out to UKA to discuss alternative options for this summer’s event, including an offer to cover the costs of moving the event to another venue and a further good will gesture for the disruption.
“We believe this is a sensible way forward for all concerned under the circumstances.
“It will mean the event can still be held without disrupting Team GB’s Olympic preparations and delivers best value to the taxpayer.
“We would want UKA to see that this is the best way forward in light of the circumstances caused by the pandemic.”
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However, UKA reacted with anger that the prestigious event would possibly be moved to a suitable alternative venue.
A UKA spokesperson said: “This would be an unacceptable breach of a longstanding agreement that forms an important part of the 2012 Olympic legacy plans.
“We expect the contract to be honoured and the event to take place at the Olympic Stadium as do the athletes, broadcasters, sponsors, and most importantly the fans.
“This is not only a key part of our Olympic and Paralympic athletes’ preparation for Tokyo.
“But an opportunity for fans and young athletes from the local community to return to one of the most iconic athletic venues in world sport.
“It would be a travesty for the sport after such a long wait for world class athletics to return to the Olympic Stadium if our athletes and fans are denied a crucial send-off to Tokyo.”
The meeting first began in 2013 as part of the legacy plans following the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics yet it was cancelled last year due to the Covid pandemic.
Source: Athletics - thesun.co.uk