Last Updated: 26/07/11 10:21pm
Lord Coe: Opening ceremony decision is with athletes
Sebastian Coe insists the athletes themselves should decide whether to attend the London 2012 opening ceremony - and has promised a major improvement on conditions endured at previous Olympics ceremonies.
The British track and field team have had a blanket ban on taking part in the opening ceremony and the swimmers are expected to follow suit.
At the 2008 Games in Beijing, athletes were on their feet for hours, queuing and waiting without food or water before and after the opening ceremony.
Lord Coe, the London 2012 chairman, did not attend the opening ceremonies for either of the Games he competed at, Moscow 1980 and Los Angeles 1984, but said that for athletes it "will be different in London on this occasion" and that hours will be taken off the time involved.
"The memories they are going to take from London is such that the upside to being there is so much greater than the downside."
Lord Coe Quotes of the week
He said: "The Athletes' Village is within walking distance of the stadium so it's not a matter of figuring out a system to shave minutes off their evening, we will probably take hours out of it, and I think the athletes are best-placed to make that judgement.
"A lot of the British track and field team are of course likely to be in their holding camps and won't be coming in to the Village until closer to their competition."
Coe said no specific targets had been set but that Games chiefs were working closely with the athletes' commission.
He added: "We will make sure to maximise athlete engagement. I recognise for a lot of athletes that the opening ceremony is a serious part of their Olympic experience - greater in many respects than their competition.
"The memories they are going to take from London is such that the upside to being there is so much greater than the downside.
"We are in much better shape for geographical reasons this time. We are going to provide areas with places to sit and eat, so that it does not remotely eat into performances."
UK Athletics head coach Charles van Commenee announced last week that he has imposed a ban on the track and field team taking part in the opening ceremony.
He said: "They would not go shopping for eight hours before their biggest event so why would you be on your feet for that long?"
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