Event could see stars such as Usain Bolt, Jess Ennis and David Weir descend on the Olympic Stadium this July
The anniversary of the London 2012 opening ceremony will see not one, not two, but three days of athletics action take place in the Olympic Stadium.
It has been confirmed that the London Anniversary Games will span July 26-28, with IAAF Diamond League events on the Friday and Saturday before a third day of disability athletics on the Sunday dedicated to showcasing the Paralympians of 2012.
As the last major international athletics event before the IAAF World Championships in Moscow, many of the world’s best athletes will use the London Anniversary Games as their final pre-championship preparation. The event also follows the IPC World Championships so will give fans the chance to welcome home their Paralympic heroes from Lyon.
With the decision “an important part of the London 2012 legacy” IAAF vice-president Seb Coe said: “London 2012 was an amazing year for British sport and what a way to celebrate its success by welcoming the world back to London once more to watch the biggest names in athletics.
“It is an important part of the London 2012 legacy that as many people as possible experience world-class sport in the world-class facilities at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and I’m sure the London Anniversary Games will go a long way to inspiring the next generation of track and field fans.”
The London Grand Prix has hit the headlines recently with the news that a lifting of tax rules has cleared the way for Olympic sprint champion Usain Bolt to take to the track in London.
Reacting to Britain’s unique tax-related financial penalties, Chancellor George Osborne has offered a “one-off exemption” for Bolt and other overseas athletes to compete at the Olympic Stadium event. Without the tax rules being lifted, Bolt would have been taxed on not only his fee for the London Grand Prix but also for a percentage of his global sponsorship earnings – a factor that has, with the exception of last year’s Olympics, prevented him competing in the UK in recent years.
Double Olympic champion Mo Farah and heptathlon gold medallist Jessica Ennis have already pledged their support for the event, but the inclusion of Bolt, who last competed in Britain in 2009 when he raced 150m in the Great City Games in Manchester and then the 100m and 4x100m at the London Grand Prix at Crystal Palace, would be sure to draw many fans to the capital. However, with the event taking place just two weeks before the World Championships in Moscow, the world 100m and 200m record-holder may still wish to sit this one out.
Speaking when the announcement was made to move the event to the Olympic Stadium, Ennis, who hasn’t attended a London Diamond League meet before, said: “Hopefully I will be there and using the competition as part of my preparation for the World Championships.
“It will give athletes and fans who did not get to experience the amazing venue the chance to go there, and for those of us who had the most incredible experiences on the track and field, an opportunity to re-live a few memories!”
Commenting on the inclusion of the third day of athletics action, double Paralympic T34 100m and 200m champion Hannah Cockroft said: “It’s fantastic to hear that there will be a para event at the London Anniversary Games, as it’s bringing the attention back to where it all began and gives us a chance to re-live the glory of last year.
“There was a massive buzz at the Games last year and I’m looking forward to recreating that again this year at the London Anniversary Games. It’s a brilliant opportunity for us, as it gives us another major event to aim for and I can’t wait to get out in front of that crowd again.”
With demand for tickets expected to be huge, British Athletics chief executive Niels de Vos has encouraged fans to register their interest early.
“We are thrilled to have been asked by Mayor of London Boris Johnson and his team at LLDC to stage this event - what a fantastic opportunity for London, for the Stadium and for British Athletics,” he said.
“The three-day format ensures we will give as many people as possible the chance to be in the stadium. I encourage fans to register their interest for tickets via the British Athletics website, so they don’t miss out on what is set to be an incredible three days of action this summer.”
» Ticket information for the London Anniversary Games is set to be issued shortly but fans are being encouraged to register for tickets via www.britishathletics.org.uk