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Reputation on line, London Games chief says

LONDON – London 2012 chief Sebastian Coe says Britain’s international reputation will be in tatters if the Olympic Stadium is turned into a soccer-only venue after next year’s games.

Tottenham, which is competing with fellow English Premier League club West Ham to take over the venue, wants to tear down the 80,000-seater stadium after the Olympics and build a soccer-only arena on the site without a running track.

That would go against the pledge London organizers made in 2005 before the vote on the 2012 Olympics that the 60,000-capacity stadium would be a purpose-built home for athletics.

“It’s really serious that we deliver on what we said we were going to deliver, unless we are prepared to trash our international reputation,” said Coe, chairman of the London Games’ organizing committee.

“If we don’t, it would be very difficult for us to be taken seriously again for the foreseeable future in the corridors of world sport.”

West Ham would keep the track and convert the stadium into a 60,000-seater venue for soccer, track and field, concerts and community use.

The Olympic Park Legacy Company could also go ahead with its original plan to downsize the stadium to a 25,000-seat athletics venue.

A decision on the preferred bidder is expected Friday. It would then need to be ratified by two government departments and the mayor of London’s office.

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