LONDON (Reuters) - Brick Lane in London’s East End was dubbed Curry Capital 2012 on Wednesday as part of a peace deal with angry locals after the Olympic marathons were re-routed away from the deprived area.
Denis Oswald, chairman of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) commission checking on progress for the Games, joined London 2012 chairman Sebastian Coe and Tower Hamlets mayor Lutfur Rahman in strolling down a street famed for its cuisine.
“The Olympic Games is on the doorstep. It gives the opportunity for Tower Hamlets and Brick Lane to be showcased in an extraordinary way,” said Coe after sampling the local poppadoms.
”It’s an iconic street in London and throughout the world now.
“The Olympic Games is probably going to attract between 800,000 and a million extra people to London,” added Coe. “This is a great street, a great community for people to spend time between all the fantastic sporting competitions.”
A deal was agreed last month between the organising committee and Tower Hamlets after the council had called for a judicial review of the decision to move the marathon route away from the East End.
The council had also accused the organisers of being “ashamed of the very communities who helped London win the Games.”
“The curry industry contributes some four billion pounds to the treasury and Brick Lane and ‘Banglatown’ also plays a big part in contributing to the treasury coffers,” Rahman told Reuters as he waited for Coe and Oswald to arrive.
“I read somewhere that Queen Victoria used to like a curry here and there.”
The new marathon route begins and ends outside Buckingham Palace, official residence of the British monarch since the days of Queen Victoria.
Oswald, who will hold a news conference on Friday at the end of the visit, said he liked what he had seen and tasted.
“We were at the Park yesterday and it’s 80 percent finished, which is very impressive if you think it’s more than one year to go until the Games,” he told Reuters.
“It’s a unique situation in Games history and why we feel we are in a very comfortable position.”
Editing by Ed Osmond