THE Olympic torch is coming to Sunderland, Lord Seb Coe has revealed.
There was outrage when the city was missed off an initial route for the famous flame’s visit to the North East next year, part of a national tour to mark the 2012 London Games.
The Echo was joined by politicians, sports personalities and people across Wearside in calling for the torch to visit the region’s biggest city.
Now, Olympics chief Lord Seb Coe - the man behind bringing the games to London – says that the iconic flame will be coming to Sunderland.
He said: “There’s no question about it, the torch will be coming to the city. The question is the overnight stops that it will make, but it will be here.”
Lord Coe was speaking at the Stadium of Light where he was accepting an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from the University of Sunderland, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the world of athletics and his leadership in the 2012 London Olympics bid. The honour was presented by the university’s chancellor and fellow Olympian Steve Cram.
The news that the torch will be coming to the city was today welcomed on Wearside.
Sunderland City Council leader Paul Watson said: “It’s pretty magnificent news.”
He said that there would now be further discussions with Olympic chiefs.
Coun Watson said: “We need to understand what does Lord Coe mean by ‘coming’? We will be happy to talk to him and the council will be happy to facilitate it in any way we can.”
He said there was a need to make sure that any event in the city was as high profile as those elsewhere, if not more so.
He said: “What we were anxious to see is that we get a fair representation commensurate with a city of our size and importance in the region and the country.”
Sharon Hodgson, MP for Washington and Sunderland West, said: “It’s great news that the Olympic torch will come to Sunderland, and a great victory for the Echo’s campaign.
“It is a shame that it won’t be stopping overnight, but I know that the people of Sunderland will turn out in force to make it a real celebration and show the Olympic organisers what they’re missing.”
Coun Mel Speding, cabinet secretary of Sunderland City Council, said: “We continue to work closely with the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games to determine the final route that the Olympic torch will take.
“Those discussions are still on-going and no official announcement is expected until November.
“We would obviously welcome the chance for the city to be able to promote and celebrate the Olympic and Paralympic games ensuring that all residents of Sunderland have the opportunity to benefit from what will be the largest sporting event ever to come to the United Kingdom.”