Concerns are growing around the long-term future of track and field in the capital after UK Athletics accepted a seven-figure pay-off from London Stadium bosses to relocate the Anniversary Games this summer.
It is understood that the final fee paid by the London Legacy Development Corporation was around £1.8million after they objected to meeting the £3m cost of reconfiguring the stadium to stage the July 13 meet.
UKA had threatened legal action to preserve their contractual right to stay at the home of the London 2012 Olympics, but have now confirmed they will go elsewhere. Gateshead are the favourites to step in to host the event, with doubts intensifying over the future presence of athletics in London.
London Stadium bosses have paid UK Athletics to relocate this summer’s Anniversary Games
UKA CEO Joanna Coates has pointed to the 50-year deal they hold with the stadium, but this latest manoeuvre has been met with private scepticism among multiple influential figures in the sport over the likelihood of that agreement running to term.
With no Anniversary Games in 2020 because of the pandemic, and with a 2022 slot almost impossible because of the packed international athletics calendar, there stands to be a four-year gap between track and field appointments at the stadium.
Coates said: ‘Our priority has been to stage the event at the London Stadium. Unfortunately, that has proven impossible.
The Games are due to take place on July 13 ahead of this summer’s Olympics in Tokyo
‘As a result, we have agreed to a settlement that allows us to mitigate losses and invest significant resource into the sport to help our athletes succeed.’
A spokesperson for the LLDC said: ‘This event is an important part of London Stadium’s summer schedule and will remain so in future years.
‘However, because of the repercussions of the Covid pandemic on other events at the stadium, in particular the usual concert programme, it was important to reach an agreement with UK Athletics to remove the need to reconfigure the stadium for one event.’