Montreal May Get World Champs Back

By Craig Lord

LONDON, February 9. THE World Long Course Championships may be returned to Montreal today or tomorrow after a crisis meeting, which took place in Paris last week among Mustapha Larfaoui, president of FINA, Gérald Tremblay, the mayor the Quebec capital, and Dick Pound, the head of WADA.

The meeting took place after Pound had called on Jacques Rogges, president
of the IOC, to intervene. While Rogges was at pains to say that the
decision was entirely a matter for FINA, he did ask Larfaoui to return to
the negotiating table "to continue a dialogue with my Canadian friends".

The FINA Bureau meets in Frankfurt tomorrow, February 10, to decide who
will host the 2005 championshoips this summer. Montreal and Berlin appear
to be the favourites, especially since Athens and Moscow have joined the
race to host the 2009 event after Paris withdrew.

Paris pulled out because the pools that may be built for the 2012 Olympic
Games will not be ready in time. Construction will only begin in 2009, with
completion then due for 2011. Paris will not even begin an architects'
design competition until after the IOC vote on July 6 that will decide the
host city for the 2012 Olympic Games.

London, another bid city for 2012, announced Baghdad-born architect Zaha
Hadid as the winner of Britain's competition to design the London Olympic
pool.

While London says that there will be no white elephants in its 2012 bid,
a blue whale-like aquatics complex the size of Wembley Stadium will
dominate the landscape in East London whether the capital wins the IOC vote
or not.

Hadid, an award-winning architect, won the race to design the £70 million
Olympic pool for East London with a stunning aquatics cathedral that would
keep all four Olympic aquatic disciplines under a wave-structured roof that
resembles the flow of water and the surfacing of the world's largest
mammal.

The site in the Lower Lea Valley where the pools will be built is
already been cleared. Archaeologists arrived there this week and buidling
work is expected to begin by the end of the year, with a completion date
set for "late 2008 or early 2009". Hadid's team will work with S&P, the
pool architect, and Ove Arup and Partners, the engineer.

At the heart of a complex that would be the gateway to London's
Olympic Park, will help to rejuvenate the Thames Gateway and ticks all
boxes from elite sport to community legacy, are two permanent 50-metre
pools and a separate diving hall. The main competition pool would seat
20,000 during the Games but Hadid has tailored her design cleverly to allow
seating to be reduced to 3,000 without affecting the shape of the building.

Similarly, the diving hall would seat 5,000 during the Games but will
have 1,000 seats afterwards or in the event of London losing the right to
stage the Games when the International Olympic Committee votes this July.
Water-polo would be staged in a temporary pool that would be dismantled
after the Games, when a health and leisure facility would be incorporated
into the building and more space would be given over to other use, such as
sports science and community activities.

The complex, which sets an exceptionally high standard for rival
bidders to match and even exceeds what Sydney offered at Homebush in 2000,
will allow Britain to bid for the first time for the World Aquatics
Long Course Championships. At the moment, the nation has no facilities
suitable to host such a large event. Mustapha Larfaoui will get his first
view of the project when he arrives in London with other IOC delegates on
February 16-19.

Lord Rogers, the award-winning architect and member of the jury that chose
Hadid's design above five others, including bids from France, Italy and
Germany, said the competition had been stiff but the winner had designed a
"building of exceptional sculptural quality" that would be a landmark
worthy of one of the world's great cities.

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