Sebastian Coe has warned UK Athletics that cutting ties with the Olympic Stadium would be detrimental to the sport in the country.
UK Athletics have reportedly been offered £15 million to cut ties with the multi-purpose London Stadium, which also serves as the home to Premier League club West Ham.
Coe believes that should the governing body take up the offer, it would be difficult for the UK to host World Athletics Championships in the coming years.
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The World Championships are a biennial athletics competition organised by World Athletics that London hosted once in 2017.
The stadium also hosted the World Para Athletics Championships the same year, making it the first time both events were hosted in the same stadium.
Coe, who formerly won four Olympic medals in the 1500m and 800m events, is currently president of World Athletics, having chaired the Olympics organising committee back when the city hosted the Summer Olympics in 2012.
“I’m very clear: we have to maintain, we should maintain, a really world-class presence for track and field in London,” Coe said in quotes reported by The Guardian.
“It would be bizarre not to. I want London to remain a stopping point for international athletics.”
Should the deal go through, West Ham would be allowed to remake the stadium, which was built specifically for the 2012 Summer Olympics and Paralympics, into a full-time football ground.
However, the city’s draw of hosting major athletics events would also effectively be vanished.
“World Championships don’t always go to capital cities,” said Coe. “But I think we have to recognise that the quality, the natural assets, that London has in an Olympic stadium are still an attraction.
"We have member federations within minutes of the 2017 [Championships], coming to me saying: ‘Can’t we just bring them back to London every two years?’ So, it’s a big asset. Of course, it’s a big asset.”
The current lease of the stadium allows the UKA one month a year to host an athletics event at the stadium, but the process to make the stadium ready for said event commands around £3 million.
Coe also mentioned that he would gladly be involved in any conversations surrounding the iconic stadium’s lease.
“If UK Athletics felt that I could be helpful in that process, I’m of course happy to be,” he added. “But nobody has actually spoken to me about that yet. I’m going to let this follow its natural course.”
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