Greenwich Park Approved for 2012 Olympic Equestrian Events

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Greenwich Park, venue of the 2012 Olympic Games equestrian events
Greenwich Park, venue of the 2012 Olympic Games equestrian events

LONDON, Mar. 24–Greenwich Park was approved Tuesday night as the venue for equestrian events at the 2012 Olympic Games, overcoming years of opposition from several groups that has made it one of the most controversial venues.

The Greenwich Council Planning Committee voted in favor of the application submitted by the London Organizing Committee for the temporary use of land at Greenwich Park, the National Maritime Museum, the Old Royal Naval College and Blackheath Circus Field for the London 2012 Equestrian and Modern Pentathlon events.

“The FEI is thrilled by the decision of the Greenwich Council’s Planning Committee in regard to the planning application for Greenwich Park,” International Equestrian Federation President Princess Haya said.

Local residents, pressure groups and wildlife organizations were concerned about the impact the plans would have on the park, a World Heritage Site.

“We are delighted with the outcome of this democratic process and thank the Greenwich planning committee and all the people who came out to speak for and against this application,” LOCOG Chairman Sebastian Coe said in a statement.

“The message from tonight is loud and clear. This great park is on loan to the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games and the people of the world.

“We must return it to the residents of Greenwich, to Londoners and visitors from the UK and around the world in the same condition, or better, than it was loaned to us.”

“We take this responsibility seriously and will continue to work with the park authorities, resident and park user groups and the people of Greenwich as we develop and implement our plans to stage an extraordinary event in 2012.”

Opponents argued that the park would be damaged by work needed to install a temporary showjumping arena, cross-country course and spectator stands and that local residents would be deprived of access to the panoramic green space in south London before and during the Olympics.

About US$63.1 million will be spent transforming the park into a temporary equestrian center. It was chosen for its visual appeal and proximity to the main hub of venues just across the River Thames.

“Greenwich Park is a spectacular venue which places equestrian sport right at the heart of the 2012 Olympic Games. With just over two years left until the Games open we are looking forward to working with LOCOG to showcase the sport to the world from this spectacular location in London,” FEI Secretary General Alex McLin added.