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Palace to be restored to former glory?

Olympic bid success could make stadium jewel in our athletics crown once more

Worcester News: London Mayor Ken Livingstone London Mayor Ken Livingstone

A SUCCESSFUL London bid to host the 2012 Olympics would lead to millions of pounds of investment in the borough, according to Ken Livingstone.

The future of Crystal Palace National Sports Centre and athletics stadium has been shrouded in mystery but the Mayor has now provided assurances.

According to his office, Crystal Palace has been pencilled in to host the modern pentathlon event.

This involves the five disciplines of shooting, fencing, swimming, show-jumping and running and the centre's dilapidated facilities would need to be completely refurbished to host the event.

The centre's lease runs out in 2004 and there had been no guarantees that it would be preserved as a sporting facility.

Sport England, the agency which is responsible for the development of sport in this country, holds the current lease and told News Shopper it was not clear who would own the centre in 2012.

But Mr Livingstone said last weekend that the bid would secure Crystal Palace's future.

A spokesman said: "The stadium and sports centre would certainly need to be upgraded to host the event.

"The Mayor has given his commitment to the refurbishment of Crystal Palace if the bid is successful and to its future in general."

But Bromley Council's head of marketing and leisure services Brian Turpin told News Shopper he is not convinced the centre's future is secured.

He said: "The bid may be good news for Crystal Palace but the immediate future is more uncertain than it has ever been.

"The lease runs out in 46 weeks and there is no agreement to continue running the facility after that. We need urgent confirmation that Crystal Palace has a sporting future."

UK Athletics is the governing body of the sport and its chief executive David Moorcroft, a former Olympic distance runner, told News Shopper that the centre's preservation was essential.

He said: "We are committed to saving the stadium for top class athletics and will work with all the relevant agencies to this end."

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