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Will Bisley host Olympic shooting in 2012?

The legacy shooting sports will receive from the London 2012 Olympics was under discussion last week in Parliament, when MPs debated the suitability of the Royal Artillery Barracks at Woolwich as a temporary venue.

The likelihood of a U-turn on the choice of venue is still in question, after Olympics minister Tessa Jowell stated that the initial decision not to hold shooting events at Bisley was itself critical to London’s bid to host the Games. She commented: “People should remember that one reason why we won the Olympics was that we agreed to bring shooting into the Olympic area and not have it at Bisley. We won because we promised a compact Games. We are not operating on a blank sheet of paper and we cannot tear up past commitments; we have commitments to the International Olympic Committee.”

MPs in the Commons expressed frustration that Bisley
has been sidelined. The Conservatives’ John Whittingdale said: “It is probably too late to revisit the debate about whether Bisley was a possible venue, though I still find it extraordinary that a world-class shooting centre should be ruled out on the basis that the road might not be good enough for the spectators, or that it was a bit too far away.”

Despite Ms Jowell’s uncompromising stance, last week the London Olympic Board (on which she sits) separately failed to endorse the plan to use Greenwich Park for equestrian events in 2012. The board was unswayed by a report into Olympic venues which is being conducted by accountancy firm KPMG. The report suggested use of the park would offer value for money and insiders say the KPMG report also backs use of the Royal Artillery Barracks for the shooting events, stating that a move to Bisley would not be worth the expense. Hence the Olympic Board’s decision not to “rubber stamp” the equestrian venue is encouraging to those who argue the shooting venue must change. A meeting is due to take place before the end of the year to discuss the report’s recommendations.