Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by the British Olympic Association


  1.  The British Olympic Association (BOA) is the National Olympic Committee (NOC) for Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It was formed in 1905 and at that time consisted of seven National Governing Body (NGB) members. The BOA now includes as its members the 35 NGBs of each Olympic Sport.

  2.  The BOA is one of 200 NOCs currently recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The NOC is the BOA's decision and policy-making body and it elects the officers of the Association, the President (HRH The Princess Royal), the Chairman (Mr Craig Reedie) and two Vice Chairmen (Mr Albert Woods and Mr John James) each for a four year term. The NOC also elects the BOA's Executive Board.

  3.  The head of the BOA's professional staff (Mr Simon Clegg) is the Chief Executive and also acts as Chef de Mission during the Olympic Games. The professional departments of the BOA include Athlete Services, Appeals, Education, Finance, Games Services, Information Technology, Legal, London Olympic Project, Marketing, Performance, Press and Sports Science.

  4.  The BOA's role is to develop the Olympic Movement within Great Britain and Northern Ireland in accordance with the Olympic Charter. The BOA is the sole body in the United Kingdom responsible for selecting, organising and leading the Great Britain and Northern Ireland delegation at the Olympic Games, the Olympic Winter Games and the European Youth Olympic and Olympic Winter Days.

  5.  The BOA also delivers extensive elite level support services to Britain's Olympic Athletes and to their NGBs throughout each Olympic cycle to assist them in their preparations for the Games and to improve their performance at the Games.

  6.  The BOA has established and runs steering and advisory groups composed of leading scientists and representatives from the NGBs on coaching, physiology, acclimatisation, exercise physiology, nutrition and bio-mechanics. The BOA runs multi-sports Olympic training camps for current and prospective Olympic athletes which in recent years have included camps in Australia—on the Gold Coast and in Brisbane, Orlando in Florida and, for winter sports, in Lofer in Austria.

  7.  The BOA organises a team management Olympic-awareness training programme, an Olympic accreditation scheme for training centres and, prior to the establishment of the UK Sports' Institute, the BOA provided UK Sport with advice on technical matters. The BOA is also involved in the development and delivery of the Athlete Career and Education programme (ACE UK) and the Olympic and Paralympic Employment Network (OPEN). Over the last 10 years, the BOA has also contributed in excess of £1 million in medical insurance premiums for elite level athletes.

  8.  The BOA trains current and former Olympic athletes to deliver motivational goal setting courses to the next generation of Olympic athletes whilst the BOA Athletes' Commission provides feedback to the Association on the provision of services required for competitors in elite sport. The BOA has developed and runs an agency known at Talk Olympic for Olympic athletes, offering training and motivational speaking engagements for them within companies or other organisations. The BOA has also operated the British Olympic Medical Centre (BOMC) since 1987. The BOMC provides medical and sports science support for Olympic and potential Olympic athletes.

  9.  The BOA continues to be fully committed to providing technical support to the UK's elite athletes throughout the entire duration of each Olympic cycle—both for summer and winter Games.

  10.  The BOA is only one of a handful of NOCs worldwide not to receive government or public finance. The BOA raises the money it needs by granting commercial sponsorship and licensing rights to companies and from nationwide appeals to the public and industry.


  11.  The decision to remove athletics from the design of the new Wembley stadium was taken by the then Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, The Rt Hon Chris Smith MP, on 22 December 1999. The background to this decision has been the subject of a previous CMS Select Committee inquiry for which the BOA provided written submissions. This was followed by oral evidence given to the Committee by Mr Craig Reedie and Mr Simon Clegg on 18 January 2000.

  12.  In its conclusions to this inquiry, the Committee questioned the influence of the BOA in the decision making process, although it cited the omission of the BOA from the National Stadium Monitoring Committee to be "a fundamental failure which undermined the effectiveness of the Government's approach to the Wembley National Stadium project". (Recommendation (ii), page xliv CMS Select Committee report into Wembley National Stadium, 1 March 2000).

  13.  With regard to Wembley, the BOA felt that it did not exert undue influence but merely voiced legitimate concerns over the design which were pertinent to the Olympic dimension. The decision by the then Secretary of State was taken as a result of an independent review of the Wembley designs by a firm of consultants commissioned by UK Sport.

  14.  The Wembley Stadium issue highlighted the need for open and constructive dialogue between organisations involved in the administration of British sport. The BOA is clear that where there is an Olympic focus, then it should be consulted with regard to Olympic specifications. The role that the BOA played in the subsequent search for a National Athletics Stadium, was in line with this rationale.


  15.  The BOA has fully supported the efforts of UK Athletics and the London 2005 Bid/Organising Committee to successfully stage the World Athletics Championships in London. The staging of international sporting events not only provides exposure for the sport within the host country, but has other direct and indirect benefits. Significant economic impacts are now attributed to these events and home advantage often inspires improved performances from domestic competitors. These positive images can provide the stimulus for increased participation—especially amongst the young.

  16.  The successful staging of the World Athletics Championships will greatly aid the development of athletics within the UK. The recent World Athletics Championships in Edmonton, Canada have shown that the successes of Sydney must be capitalised upon in order to maintain the positive momentum engendered by athletes, coaches and officials at the 2000 Olympic Games.


  17.  The successful staging of the World Athletics Championships in London is crucial to helping re-establish the UK's reputation for sporting administration that has been tainted by the protracted Wembley Stadium issue. Having already been awarded the Championships, it is important that the commitment to stage one of the highest profile world sporting events is reinforced.

  18.  The efficient organisation of the Championships is also important to the credibility of a future Olympic bid. The Championships in London will take place a matter of months before the expected decision on which city is to host the 2012 Games is made by the IOC. It is vital that the United Kingdom, and London in particular, can show that the organisation of major sporting projects remains a high priority.

  19.  The BOA is heartened by Government pledges to make the World Athletics Championships a success. This sits alongside their support in driving forward preliminary work assessing the viability of a future London Olympic bid. This unequivocal commitment to staging major international events is stated on the Department of Culture, Media and Sport's website:

    "The Government is working hard to bring major sports events to the UK. We are also working closely with the British Olympic Association to lay the foundations for a top quality Olympic bid and we are driving forward the bid for the World Athletics Championships."

  20.  The continuing uncertainty over Picketts Lock can only further damage the sporting reputation of this country overseas. The drawn out affair concerning the redevelopment of Wembley Stadium has already tarnished the name of the world's most famous football stadium in the eyes of some international observers.

  21.  The BOA welcomes the Labour Party election manifesto commitment to the World Athletics Championships and Labour's commitment to "a radical extension of sporting opportunities and facilities". In light of these commitments, given only months ago, it is hoped that the Government will take all necessary measures to safeguard the staging of the Championships.

  22.  There is no doubt that if we are serious about sport in this country then we must look to be at the forefront of hosting major sporting events. This not only requires a development of the necessary infrastructure for elite level competition, but also the implementation of a comprehensive strategy aimed at improving training and community based facilities.

  23.  The BOA believes that the necessary investment in infrastructure should be in addition to, and not at the expense of, investment in grass roots sport.


  24.  Following the decision to drop athletics from Wembley, there was a pressing need to look again for a location for athletics within London as the World Championships had already been secured for the capital. The Department of Culture, Media and Sport convened meetings involving Sport England, UK Athletics, World Athletics Bid Committee, Government Office for London, London International Sport and the BOA. This was designed to assess the viability of sites to fit in with the criteria for the World Athletics Championships. The BOA attended to provide information concerning the likely relevance of proposed sites to the Olympic bid work that was being carried out.

  25.  At a meeting on 23 February 2000, the BOA was asked to provide Sport England and DCMS with a three page brief on the main requirements for an Olympic bid. These were detailed as "acreage of facilities; village requirements; transport flows". The BOA subsequently provided the relevant information that it had at its disposal.

  26.  At this point it was agreed that the development of a new athletics stadium should be done via a design that would not rule out the Olympic option, if and when this became applicable. With this in mind, Sport England drew up a list of nine possible options, including Picketts Lock.

  27.  The sites were assessed by Sport England against a number of criteria including: site compatibility; readiness; location; ability to accommodate Olympics; regeneration; transportation; planning permission; capital viability; ownership structure.

  28.  It is worth noting that the requirements for the World Athletics Championships and the Olympic Games vary in terms of desired spectator provision. In their brief, UK Athletics state that "The World Athletics Championships would require a stadium with a seating capacity of between 45,000 to 50,000". The BOA—based on IOC requirements, expected spectator demand and an assessment of contemporary bidding cities—views an 80,000 capacity stadium as being a minimum requirement for the host city of the Olympic Games. This can take the form of permanent seating, or through temporary provision—an element of which was witnessed in Stadium Australia.

  29.  It was the BOA's initial view that, if possible, the design for the World Athletics Championships should incorporate a larger footprint for the temporary extension of the stadium in the event of a successful bid being made to stage the Olympic Games. The BOA also gave full backing to UK Athletics' wish to maintain this stadium as a "legacy stadium" which they saw as being "a state of the art, permanent UK home for athletics with a 20,000 seat capacity and the capability of staging World class athletics meetings on a year round basis".

  30.  UK Athletics considered the Olympic dimension in its February appraisal of options for a suitable stadium development. Its favoured option was for the use of the available funding to create a legacy stadium which would have temporary seating for the World Athletics Championships. Their assessment of the Olympic dimension with respect to this option was "the initial view is that it would be impractical to design a stadium that could be adapted from 20,000 to 80,000. More practical would be the use of this stadium as the warm-up track or alternative sporting venue".

  31.  The view expressed by UK Athletics was to find a stadium that would satisfy the IAAF requirements for the World Championships whilst also using the funding to leave behind a "legacy stadium" which could provide a home for athletics in the UK. The BOA was keen to ensure that, given the need to convince the IAAF at their April meeting of the viability of the London stadium project, nothing could be allowed to jeopardise the bid.


  32.  The meeting on 15 March 2000 concluded that, following detailed assessments, three sites (two in Lee Valley and one in North West London) were to be considered the premier options with two existing stadium developments in South and South West London retained as reserve options.

  33.  Further meetings took place in the following week with representatives of these sites to look at the brief, design issues and cost implications. The BOA was not present at these meetings.

  34.  The decision to choose Picketts Lock ahead of the other two contenders was taken by the relevant organisations at the end of March 2000. This was in order to remove any uncertainty over the proposed stadium site prior to the meeting of the IAAF convened to ratify the location of the Championships.

  35.  The BOA's input into this final decision was limited to ensuring that the Olympic dimension was considered by any site under discussion. The Olympic issues of all three premier options were assessed by Sport England. They recorded that the size and location of each of these sites "does not rule out Olympic potential . . .".

  36.  The BOA backed the decision for the stadium development at Picketts Lock as, at the time, this presented UK Athletics with the most viable option with which to convince the IAAF at their meetings in Paris to confirm London as the venue for the 2005 World Athletics Championships. It was also a site which kept open the possibility of future use in an Olympic bid context.


  37.  In light of this decision, Mr Clegg wrote to Mr Derek Casey, then Chief Executive of Sport England, on 15 June 2000 about amendments to the Lottery Funding Agreement. In connection with Wembley this had previously (and erroneously) cited UK Athletics as the event holder for the Olympic Games. The BOA was keen that this be resolved. With respect to Picketts Lock the BOA requested that, as a minimum, the same "not for profit" and "clean stadium" clauses should be inserted in respect of a future Olympic Games as had been done with Wembley. Mr Clegg also stated that he would prefer for the stadiums to be made available on a "free of charge" basis bearing in mind the potential amounts of public money that would be invested in the facilities.

  38.  Mr Casey replied (6 July 2000) that, with regard to Wembley, their discussions with Chase Manhattan involved allowing the stadium to be used for the Olympic Games should it be required in the future. There was, however, no indication as to how this would be safeguarded. On the issue of Picketts Lock, Mr Casey suggested a review of Olympic requirements once the feasibility reports had been produced to ensure that appropriate safeguards were built into the funding arrangement.

  39.  The BOA still maintains that the funding agreement needs to take account of potential future Olympic usage and that this should be resolved prior to the finalisation of any agreement.


  40.  The first meeting of the Lee Valley Stadium Forum took place on 26 June 2000 in order to update the key parties involved in the national athletics facility on the progress and direction of the project. The BOA were one of a wide ranging list of such interested parties. Prior to this meeting the BOA sought clarification from DCMS over the transport implications of the Picketts Lock site. This was to ensure that the Olympic dimension was factored into any transport studies that were to be commissioned.

  41.  There was, at the time, uncertainty over whether the capacity for the World Athletics Championships could be adequately catered for by public transport. This, however, related to a stadium development for 40-50,000 spectators. The BOA was keen that an assessment of the implications relating to spectator access/egress for a stadium capacity of 80,000 (ie. main Olympic stadium) be factored in.

  42.  This would also assume that the main stadium is the only Olympic venue that would be served via this transport route. The placing of other venues, or media facilities, at Picketts Lock would increase the potential numbers needing to be catered for in transport terms. For an Olympic Games the necessity of spectators to travel to and from the venue via public transport is paramount.

  43.  The challenges to successfully integrating an Olympic dimension into the designs of the new stadium were identified at an early stage. This centred around the fact that the legacy stadium would be formed from a reduction of the initial stadium build for the World Athletics Championships. The issue is further complicated by the unknown factors of when a decision to bid for the Olympic Games would be made and future capacity requirements.

  44.  On 21 June 2000 Mr Clegg wrote to Mr David Moorcroft outlining the implications for the design brief and associated costs. The letter finished "The BOA see your delivery of a successful World Athletics Championships in a suitable stadium, as being critical to the international aspirations of British sport and a future Olympic bid in particular".

  45.  Mr Moorcroft agreed that for Picketts Lock to become the main Olympic stadium consideration would need to be given to ensure that planning, design, structural and commercial implications are integrated within the work of the current technical feasibility studies. The other option would be to use the stadium in its legacy configuration for Olympic sports other than athletics.

  46.  At the first meeting of the Lee Valley Stadium Forum, the BOA reiterated the desire to see Olympic requirements assessed in the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority's (LVRPA) transport study. Shawn Dawson of LVRPA agreed that there were many Olympic issues to discuss. The then Minister for Sport, Kate Hoey MP, emphasised that Olympic issues should be looked at in parallel to the work on the World Athletics Championships. The BOA reiterated its commitment that Picketts Lock would be likely to form part of the infrastructure of a future Olympic bid—although its specific role was dependent upon the transport study, planning constraints and cost analysis.

  47.  As a result of this, LVRPA instructed their consultant—Drivers Jonas—to carry out a small piece of work to look at:

    —  how far the technical brief could be adjusted to avoid precluding the Olympics;

    —  the compromises that would have to be made to the legacy stadium to accommodate the Olympics;

    —  budget cost of conversion to achieve an 80,000 capacity; and

    —  the effect on planning strategy, risk etc.

  48.  The BOA subsequently met with LVRPA, Sport England, UK Athletics, UK Sport and DCMS on 27 July 2000 to formally discuss what the Olympic requirements would be. At this meeting LVRPA gave an update on work carried out. This related to business planning and technical work (which was due to be ready in September 2000) and the transport and environmental impacts study which had been commissioned. The BOA was informed that in order to upgrade to 80,000 a large amount of extra public funding would be needed. The group viewed that it was more cost-effective to build for 40,000 with a post-Championships conversion to 20,000 and then to consider the issue of the Olympic Games. Whilst the transport report had not been completed it was foreseen that there could also be issues surrounding 80,000 competitors accessing/egressing the site by public transport (in potential Olympic mode).

  49.  It was made clear that for the BOA to insist on the stadium being able to be converted to the main stadium of the Olympic Games would put at risk the staging of the 2005 World Athletics Championships. At this point it was envisaged that the planning application would be submitted at Easter 2001. The BOA was told that an increased stadium, plus other ancillary facilities that would be required for an Olympic Games, would delay a planning application—with the probability that the project would be called in for public inquiry. The BOA therefore agreed that, at this point, it would be counter-productive to insist on the stadium being able to meet the requirements of the main Olympic Stadium.

  50.  Given the importance attached to the World Athletics Championships and the tight time-frame involved, it was agreed that the stadium would still play some part in a future London Olympic bid, but it would be unlikely to be as the main stadium. The BOA took this view in order to avoid in any way jeopardising the staging of the World Athletics Championships.

  51.  Following this meeting the BOA has attended the Lee Valley Stadium Forum as an interested and relevant party. It has however had no other involvement with this project outside of attendance at these meetings—the minutes of which are held in the House of Commons Library.


  52.  When the decision was taken to review the English National Stadium and Lee Valley National Athletics Centre projects, the BOA sought contact with Patrick Carter's team. This was primarily to ensure that the implications surrounding Picketts Lock were fully understood by those reporting back to Government.

  53.  To that end, Mr Reedie offered to meet the Carter team to discuss the importance of the World Athletics Championships to the international reputation of British sport and, linked to that, the credibility of a future London Olympic bid.

  54.  The reply from Mr Stephen Poole noted that the review was centred on whether the project could be funded and managed in its present format, and not what alternatives might be considered. The BOA was told that Mr Carter was only meeting the key stakeholders in each project. The BOA was therefore not invited to speak to Mr Carter or his team, but instead offered written representation.

  55.  Mr Reedie placed on record (30 August 2001) a letter (addressed to Mr Robert Raine at DCMS) welcoming the manifesto commitment of the Government to the World Athletics Championships; reaffirming Wembley as an important component in football terms of a future London Olympic bid; and confirming that Picketts Lock could form part of a future Olympic bid for sports other than track and field athletics. These views were subsequently reiterated in a letter sent by Mr Reedie to the Secretary of State on 25 September 2001.

  56.  Mr Reedie concluded his letter by saying:

    "The BOA is impressed with the resolution of the financial difficulties facing the 2002 Commonwealth Games and we are encouraged at the prospect that these Games can now be a considerable success. If the Picketts Lock development can be brought to fruition over the next few weeks—which would give complete comfort to the IAAF—then the combination of both developments would greatly enhance the cause of British sport in the international arena".

1 October 2001

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