Getting rid of the fabric wrap for London’s 80,000-seat Olympic Stadium is a “sensible” cost-cutting measure that will not hurt the athletes, Lord Coe has said.
The London 2012 chair said: “I am very clear the stadium fundamentally has to work for the athletic performance - that was the first thing that I wanted to satisfy myself that we were not infringing upon.
“Given the global scheme of things, I do not think that is an unreasonable thing to do.”
The 20m-high, 900m-long fabric curtain, a key part of the £516M stadium’s design, was axed as part of Government budget cuts announced last month.
The wrap was to be decorated with an Olympic-themed mural, providing an eye-catching curtain whilst also minimising crosswinds.
“Was that a sensible saving? Would it infringe on performance? Looking at all the different things, I think a sensible decision was made,” Coe said.
A Culture Department spokesman said the wrap was untenable in the current economic climate. It may not be abandoned if a sponsor can be found.
Stadium designer Rod Sheard had argued that the look of the showpiece venue in Stratford, east London, could be compromised for a £7M saving.
Sheard, senior principal of Populous, said: “The entire design team believes the wrap is an integral part of the building, it has always been part of the enclosure strategy and is critical to achieving the visual mystery of the original design, creating a drama that the main venue for this spectacular sporting event deserves.
“The wrap is used to manage the wind movement through the otherwise open structure, largely to the spectators’ benefit, and whilst the absence of the wrap will not prevent world records being achieved in the stadium, it would not be true to say that it has no effect on the playing conditions within the bowl.
“The concept behind the stadium was to build an elegant building that was lightweight and minimal in its use of materials, but at the same time provide a screen to so much of the event functionality that creates visual clutter. However, an important part of the wrap concept was to also provide a ‘screen’ on to which lighting and other visual effects can be projected that will achieve the dynamic, constantly changing focus for the London Olympics.
“It’s great that people feel the work that has been completed to date on site is sufficiently elegant to not need further enclosure but perhaps what people don’t realise is the considerable quantity of very functional conduits, cables, trunking and general services that will be added to this highly visible space closer to the Games and which will all be exposed if the wrap isn’t built.”