London is already hosting the Olympics in 2012, and so for some, the bidding for the Athletics World Championships in 2017 is unnecessary. After all, one of the biggest events in world sport is already coming to the UK.
The key word is ‘legacy’. It has been branded about ever since it was revealed London would bid for the 2012 Olympic Games, and the World Championships is a way of ensuring that legacy. If nothing else, it will mean the track will be maintained for at least the next six years. Maintaining the track is incredibly important. Next year, the Olympics 2012 will become part of Great Britain’s history. Keeping that track is an important reminder of the (hopefully) spectacular tournament London will host next year.
Having already watched the Football World Cup disappear off to Qatar, it is difficult to watch London battling them to host another important tournament. Losing out to Russia was hard enough. Indeed, today, I told someone that the winner of the bid was going to be revealed today. They couldn’t care less. Then I told them Britain was going against Qatar. Then he cared.
For the IAAF, it has appeared as though they have been desperate to take athletics to as many parts of the globe as possible. The last tournament was in Daegu in South Korea and the next two will be Moscow and Bejing. The chairman of UK athletics, Ed Warner says, ““If this does not go to London, a number of other cities in western Europe that might have contemplated bidding for the championships will look at it and say ’What do I have to do to win? Is it impossible?’”
It is, of course, important that sport does go to different parts of the world, but it is also important that it goes to places where sport is already well-supported, and where crowds are guaranteed. The UK has a magnificent history of hosting world sporting events, and should not be prevented from hosting an event because it won’t be somewhere new.
Qatar have already put their money where their mouth is, and have offered to pay the IAAF £5 million to spend as they see fit. For Qatar, financial incentives are clearly their way of winning the tournaments they desire. In this respect, they are able to punch well above their weight. For many, the disappointing Football World Cup decision was indicative of Qatar’s desire to pay whatever it takes.
London, though, has a few important things in its favour.
Firstly, its temperatures aren’t 40 degrees, and conditions are very favourable for marathon runners and other athletes.
Secondly, it will attract the crowds. Qatar has a population of only 1.7 million people, compared to the UK’s 62.2 million. In theory, those that missed out on athletics tickets for the Olympics will be inspired to buy tickets for the World Championships instead. London also has a huge tourist-appeal.
Thirdly, the infrastructure is already in place. While Doha discusses where they will be building, the London bid can show what is already in place – a spectacular stadium which will already have a great history of its own by the time 2017 comes around.
London winning the 2017 games is vitally important if the Olympic committee wish to seal their legacy ideal.
A win also has repercussions for future tournaments, and indeed, other sports such as football. If sporting bodies such as the IAAF decide that sending tournaments to new parts of the world is the ideal, then they are going to begin to lose key support in Europe, North America and Australasia. By looking to attract new supporters for their events, they may actually ostracise the countries that can always guarantee their finances, magnificent stadiums, good human rights records and sold-out venues.