London rejects Sochi 2014 skating rink plans

Russian figure skating star Aleksey Yagudin performing at the Sochi 2014 logo presentation in Moscow (RIA Novosti / Aleksey Kudenko)
Sochi 2014 organizers have been forced to give up their plans to build an ice rink in the center of London during next year's Olympics after their proposal was turned down by the city’s authorities.

­The Russian side wanted to place the rink, which would have been able to accommodate up to 8,000 people a day, at Marble Arch just in front of the gates to Hyde Park.  

Russian figure-skating stars were to give master classes to children in order to promote the Sochi 2014 Winter Games from May till October next year.

However, the plans were rejected by London’s Westminster Council after it received objections from several of the city’s structures.

"The Council's officers have recommended to the Planning Committee that this particular planning application should be refused," Rosemarie MacQueen, Westminster Council director, said in a statement. "The impact of additional visitors and vehicles on the local infrastructure, including the Olympic Route Network which encompasses the entire site, will lead to overcrowding and congestion and will not be safe."

Transport for London claimed the rink would cause "traffic congestion" at Marble Arch, while the Metropolitan Police pointed out that the area would be needed as an evacuation zone in case of an emergency in Hyde Park, which is hosting the triathlon and open water swimming during the upcoming Olympics.

The Sochi organizers have expressed full understanding of the London authorities’ concerns and promised to work out other ways of promoting the 2014 Games in the British capital.

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