Olympics deal: Woolwich’s gain is Greenwich’s loss
Bafflingly, this only appears as a blog entry on the BBC News website, but there’s some good news for people who were hoping to see the Olympics shooting events in Woolwich – Boris Johnson has agreed to drop his demand that the shooting moves to Barking after striking a deal with Olympics minister Tessa Jowell.
The mayor maintained that holding the shooting events at the Royal Artillery Barracks would cost too much. But the price of him dropping his demand is that Jowell will now back his idea of moving badminton and rhythmic gymnastics from a temporary arena near the Millennium Dome to Wembley Arena, which would save 2012 organisers from forking out for a temporary stadium. It makes financial sense, but it means Greenwich is likely to lose two Olympic sports and Paralympic volleyball, which may well join its Olympic sister sport at Earls Court.
While Barking won’t be hosting the shooting, the deal also means Barking & Dagenham will join Greenwich, Tower Hamlets, Hackney, Newham and Waltham Forest as an “Olympic borough” and will get funding for the development of training facilities.
The International Olympic Committee likes its venues to be as close to the Olympic Park as possible – hence the controversial choice of Greenwich Park for equestrian events – so this isn’t set in stone just yet. While the deal lessens Greenwich’s involvement in the games somewhat, it should secure a desperately-needed place for Woolwich in the 2012 spotlight.
It’d leave the Millennium Dome (as “North Greenwich Arena 1″) with gymnastics, basketball, and wheelchair basketball; Greenwich Park with equestrian and Paralympic equestrian events as well as the modern pentathlon; and shooting and paralympic shooting at the Royal Artillery Barracks.