Coe emphasizes new importance of lower-budget Olympics to bidders
TOKYO (AP) -- Sebastian Coe has some advice for Tokyo's Olympic bidders as he outlined how the London Games would be delivered on budget despite the global financial crisis.
The head of the London organizing committee said the economic downturn hasn't had too much of an impact because the plans put in place years ago were responsible.
"When we were bidding in 2005 the international economy was at a high-water mark, but we still had a vision to deliver a games that were both sustainable and responsible and I think we've done that," Coe said at a news conference on Wednesday. "The days of building big because the last ones were big are over. I don't think that chimes any longer with the public appetite."
London's preparations for the games, which take place from July 27 to Aug. 12, have been relatively smooth so far. Coe insisted the cost of hosting the 16-day spectacle remains within budget. The government's budget for the Games, which includes all the venue construction and infrastructure projects, is $14.5 billion.
"The public wants big sporting events, but they want to know the instincts of the organizing committee are proportionate," said Coe, a two-time Olympic 1,500-meter champion. "Seventy percent of the venues we are using are existing venues. We punched through the economic climate because we had a vision that was sustainable and responsible."
During his trip to Japan, Coe met with Tokyo governor Shintaro Ishihara, who is pushing his city's bid to host the 2020 Summer Olympics.
Coe said the pair discussed the challenges of bidding for the games.
"It's a much more sophisticated process than it was 30 or 40 years ago," Coe said. "Now the people of a city ask supplementary questions like what are you going to do with the venues afterward? How are they going to be sustainable? How are they going to change the lives of people in the communities?"
Tokyo lost out on a bid to host the 2016 Games to Rio de Janeiro, largely due to a lack of public support.
Tokyo is competing for the 2020 Olympics against Madrid, Istanbul, Doha and Baku, Azerbaijan. The IOC will select the host city in September 2013.
On the issue of doping, Coe said most British athletes agree with the British Olympic Association's lifetime ban for doping.
"Over 90 percent of athletes support the BOA's stance on that," Coe said. "I think an individual sporting organization must be able to determine what it thinks is in the best interest of the sports and the competitors it represents."
The Court of Arbitration for Sport will meet in London on March 12 to hear an appeal by the BOA against a ruling by WADA that its lifetime Olympic bans are noncompliant with global doping rules.
"I don't think that two years is a sufficient sanction for those who choose to step out of the moral framework," Coe said. "The issue of drugs in sport is something I've been speaking about for 30 years and feel as strongly about it now as I did as a competitor."
Coe said social networking has played a major role in attracting young people to the London Games.
"We have to accept that most young people don't get excited about sport because they read 20 paragraphs about a track and field meet in traditional media," Coe said. "They are accessing their information in a much more sophisticated way in any number of platforms and we have been very proactive in using social networks to get into the lives of young people."