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  • London Update -- Woodward Won't Quit BOA, $200m Cutbacks Hit 2012 Media Center, Venue Rows Rumble On


    Clive Woodward said he won't quit his job, despite a lack of sponsorships. (Getty)
    Woodward Won't Quit

    Clive Woodward, the $600,000-a-year coaching supremo for the British Olympic Association, denies reports he is about to quit his job for lack of sponsorship to pay for the performance blueprint he has spent two years drafting.

    Woodward, the former rugby international who coached England to win the 2003 World Cup, had his first year’s BOA salary paid largely out of an interest-free loan provided by chairman Colin Moynihan.

    Moynihan recruited Woodward, whose appointment was seen as a direct challenge to the role of Peter Keen, the performance director at UK Sport, the Lottery-funded government agency.

    The BOA, which stages its annual meeting and Olympic Ball in London next week, receives no direct government funding and Woodward’s scheme would have to be paid for by new sponsors.

    The Sunday Telegraph reported that in the absence of sponsorship, next week's BOA meeting would scrap Woodward's plans to give coaches access to some of the world's leading sports scientists in the run-up to the 2012 Games. Such a decision would prompt Woodward to resign.

    Woodward denied the report. "Perhaps the financial situation has made things a little more difficult, but everything is extremely positive," he said.

    "I have no intention of stepping down. I am more optimistic than ever that I can get the job done for 2012. In any case, my job is wider than the Games, but things have been going brilliantly and we will get there."

    London Media Center Downsized

    London's Olympic planners have started to scale down their plans for 2012 to save money, with the Main Press Center and International Broadcast Center being reduced in size to help lop $200 million off the overall Games budget.

    The original plans had been described as the "jewel in the crown" of the Olympics' regeneration of London’s East End, with the media buildings providing 1.3m sq ft of office and studio space in eight giant sheds as a business legacy in the deprived borough of Hackey.

    Now, the complex will be reduced by 80 percent and low-cost temporary buildings used. Hackney’s mayor, Jules Pipe, described the revised plans as a "cheap and cheerful" option.

    The change comes just a week after Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, described the $760m original cost of the media facilities as "astonishing".

    Coming amid the European banking meltdown, the cost reduction is likely to assist the builder, Carillion Igloo, to be better able to raise its $300m share of the development costs.

    Equestrian Events
    Greenwich Park will host equestrian events in 2012. (Getty)
    to Stay at Greenwich

    The costs review of some of London’s iconic 2012 venues will recommend that Greenwich Park remain the site for show jumping, dressage and three-day eventing.
    A report by accountants KPMG, due to be discussed at November’s LOCOG board meeting, is said to also endorse Woolwich Barracks for shooting events.

    Olympic minister Tessa Jowell instructed KPMG to conduct the review of temporary venues for equestrianism, shooting and basketball's preliminary rounds.

    According to one newspaper, which obtained a copy of the document, the KPMG report says that relocating dressage, show jumping and eventing to an alternative venue would create additional costs for extra security, stabling and media facilities.

    Only the $120m temporary basketball venue seems likely to be subject to change under the KPMG report recommendations. A switch to Wembley Arena has been suggested, or using an imported temporary structure.

    After viewing LOCOG's equestrianism plans and attending a consultation this month, local resident groups say they will continue to oppose the use of the historic Greenwich Park.

    Campaign group NOGOE – No to Greenwich Olympic Equestrian Events – has been formed and its chairman, Michael Goldman, said: "We adamantly oppose holding the cross country in the park at all. Whatever the KPMG review states, NOGOE will continue to fight."

    Basketball Chief Criticizes Venue Switch

    Any KPMG recommendation on scrapping the $120m temporary basketball venue within London’s Olympic Park is likely to anger IOC member Patrick Baumann.
    Baumann, the secretary general of FIBA, basketball's world governing body, is a member of the IOC’s co-ordination commission overseeing London’s preparations. He intends to complain to the IOC if LOCOG switches the proposed 12,000-seater venue for basketball’s preliminary rounds.

    "We agreed to it being brought into the Olympic Park because, as one of the core venues, we thought in a country that is not basketball friendly it might improve its popularity," he was quoted in the Evening Standard.

    "We expected that to be honored. Wembley has never been an option."

    NBA to Help Britain’s Olympic Team

    David Stern, the NBA commissioner, has promised to help develop the Great Britain basketball team in the hope that a good showing by the hosts’ team at the 2012 Olympics will help to boost the long-term plan to establish a franchise in London.

    Stern's comments came after the NBA pre-season game between Miami Heat and New Jersey Nets staged at a sold-out O2 Arena in London, venue for the 2012 Olympic basketball gold-medal matches. Britain competes in the European Championship finals next year for the
    NBA Commissioner David Stern said he would help Britain improve its basketball team. (Getty)
    first time.

    "We were very encouraged by the fact that Team GB qualified for EuroBasket," Stern said before suggesting that British players may get the opportunity to play in the NBA's summer league -- as China did before this year's Games in Beijing -- and that NBA Development League teams may visit Britain for exhibition games.

    "It's the same type of thing we have extended to other countries because we love to grow the sport of basketball." Stern also supported Baumann’s position on London’s Olympic basketball venue, saying that Wembley is "dated".

    BBC Chief Discovers -- the Olympics are "Big"

    Roger Mosey, the BBC head of sport who was recently appointed its director of 2012 Olympic operations, says he made a startling discovery when visiting the recent Beijing Games: the Olympics is a big event. "You know the Olympics are huge, but when you see it on the scale of Beijing we all immediately thought, 'This is two, or three, or four times bigger than we thought it was'," Mosey said in a newspaper interview. "The BBC, 1 million per cent, can deliver a great Games in 2012."

    Written by Steven Downes

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