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Olympic Row

PUBLISHED: 11:57 18 February 2010 | UPDATED: 17:37 25 August 2010

A BUSINESS chief is urging campaigners to drop their fight against 2012 Olympic equestrian events in the borough after two were lost in favour of Wembley Arena.

A BUSINESS chief is urging campaigners to drop their fight against 2012 Olympic equestrian events in the borough after two were lost in favour of Wembley Arena.

Principal Director of South-East London Chamber of Commerce, Stephen Nelson, wants members of No to Greenwich Olympic Equestrian Events (NOGOE) to drop their battle against Greenwich Park hosting equestrian and modern pentathlon events.

He made the plea as the International Olympic Committee confirmed badminton and rhythmic gymnastics would be held at Wembley Arena instead of a temporary £40 million arena near the O2 Arena.

NOGOE believe a Victorian law prohibiting enclosures on Blackheath Common - needed for extra equestrian capacity - could scupper the event, which would be a blow to the local economy, according to Mr Nelson.

Mr Nelson said the loss of two events will have an effect and said: "We would rather have had them as it will affect the number of visitors.

"But the big events are crucial to hold onto: the equestrianism in the park, shooting at Woolwich barracks and artistic gymnastics at the O2 Arena.

"People have been campaigning against equestrianism in Greenwich Park on the wrong information.

"The park is going to be closed for one day in its entirety and the children's park will be kept open, so it's a bit of scaremongering.

"They are entitled to voice matters that could be problematic but those issues have been well and truly resolved."

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But campaigners say the Olympics will have a destructive impact on the borough's traders in a submission made to the council by Dermot Glynn, former head of economics at the Confederation of British Industry.

A key paragraph in the 11-page analysis says: "The holding of the Olympic equestrian events in Greenwich Park would not have a positive net economic benefit to Greenwich but, to the contrary, would result in short-term economic damage to Greenwich town by reducing the numbers of tourists outside the stadium and deliver no long-term economic benefits."

Mr Glynn also cited traffic congestion and noise pollution as a concern.

Badminton and rhythmic gymnastics federations have yet to ratify the switch to Wembley Arena, but IOC official Denis Oswald said last Thursday in Vancouver that they had accepted the move to save organisers money.

A spokeswoman for the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) said: "We are still discussing arrangements with both federations, which centre on travelling time from the Olympic Village to Wembley Arena and keeping this as short as possible."

She said trampoline events will take place at North Greenwich Arena (O2 Arena) as part of the artistic gymnastics events.

Woolwich held on as hosts for Olympic shooting despite opposition from the UK's governing body, British Shooting, who argued for a permanent legacy instead of the temporary venue planned for 2012.


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