With just 24 hours to go to the announcement of the names of the cities that will win the right to host the 2011 and 2013 IAAF World Championships in Athletics, large delegations are warming up to tackle the final hurdle of their bidding process.
From 8.50am local time (GMT +3hrs) tomorrow morning until 13.20, the delegations of Barcelona, Spain, Brisbane, Australia, Moscow, Russia and Daegu, South Korea will start their final presentation in front of the IAAF Council Members, the decision making body of the IAAF.
Supporting the Barcelona bid, former Olympic champion Fermin Cacho strongly believes that Spain has all that it takes to host the IAAF’s most important competition.
Barcelona is bidding to host the 2013 World Championships in Athletics only, as the city is already scheduled to host the 2010 European Athletics Championships and another Spanish city, Valencia is the venue for the IAAF World Indoor Championships next winter.
“It just proves how good Spain is at organising events,” said Cacho. “Our organisational skills will make the difference. In addition to that the city offers a variety of multi-cultural and local assets which can only be in our favour.”
Barcelona 2013 would be the second IAAF World Championships held in Spain after Seville played host to the 1999 edition of the competition.
“Seville was the proof that our country loves the sport of athletics. The atmosphere was great and the stands almost always full.”
“I am sure that in Barcelona, just like when the city was host to the 1992 Olympic Games, we will have a full sell out crowd. And this goes also for the morning sessions which are commonly the hardest ones to fill.”
One of the other main assets of the Barcelona bid will be the excellent facilities and accommodation plan.
“All the events will be held in the Olympic Stadium, the same venue of the 1992 Games. The external façade is being renovated and a new track will also be laid so that the facilities will be of the best possible quality. We are also going to build a brand new press area.”
As far as accommodation is concerned, Barcelona’s plan is to use seven different hotels four of which are 4 stars hotels.
“We will also create what we’ll call the athletes’ village less than 400 metres away from all the hotels where athletes will have the opportunity to gather and relax.”
“Spain is a strong athletics country, the new generation of up and coming athletes is looking forward to competing in Barcelona!”
Supporting the Brisbane bid, former Olympic medallist, World Championships gold medallist and double World Cross Country champion, Sonia O’Sullivan has made the long journey to Mombasa confident that the efforts made by the Eastern Australian city will pay off.
“Council Members should vote for Brisbane because it is a good place for the athletes. We are giving priority to the athletes and their well being, the Championships in Brisbane will be athletes’ friendly,” she declared.
“It is very important for Australia that they get the Championships. Our priority is 2011 obviously but we’ll be happy with 2013 as well. We just want the Championships to come to Australia and we believe this window is the ideal one. It’s now or never for us.”
World Cup winner and Commonwealth champion Craig Mottram sounded even more positive: “Australia has the best public. There is no country in the world with such a fantastic public. The Championships in Brisbane are guaranteed to have full stadiums and the best TV coverage, they are second to none.”
Both O’Sullivan and Mottram are adamant that the success of the Olympic Games in Sydney and the more recent Commonwealth Games in Melbourne will contribute to their chances of hosting the World Championships.
“The atmosphere in Sydney was electric, it was fantastic and Brisbane will be just as good,” said O’Sullivan who was herself a silver medallist in Sydney’s 2000 Olympic Games.
26-year-old Mottram whose inspiration to become an international athlete was the magnitude of the Sydney Olympic Games is already planning on becoming a World Champion on home soil in Brisbane.
“I will be there for sure and will win there!” he smiled. “It is important that the World Championships come to Oceania. They can’t just stay in Europe and Asia, we are in a whole different part of the world and we have a lot of athletes and potential down there.”
“Australia is the best country in the world, the climate is perfect and the facilities are excellent. Do you know anyone who wouldn’t want to come to Australia?”
Kim Bum-Il, Mayor of Daegu, Korea, leads his city’s bid with an infectious enthusiasm. He travelled to Mombasa, he said, “Because I have a strict order from my citizens to bring the World Championships to my city. And I’m here to carry out my mission!”
Kim, who was elected Mayor of Korea’s third largest city last June, said his lifelong home is ready and eager to bring the World Championships to this modern city of 2.5 million.
“First of all, I think we are ready. We have state-of-the-art facilities, and we have experience in organizing international events, such as the 2002 FIFA World Cup and the Summer Universiade in 2003. But most of all, we have the enthusiastic support and passion of the citizens to bring Daegu to the world and make the championships a great success.”
“We would also like to be an example to developing athletics in the emerging countries,” said Kim, emphasizing that the legacy the championships will leave not only in his country but in that part of Asia are extremely important to his city’s bid.
“Frankly we don’t have star athletes, but through hosting this event, we can help athletics develop in Korea, and also to help it spread out to other nations. We would like to continue the legacy of athletics.”
Kim, who was born and raised in Daegu and served as a vice-mayor for two-and-a-half years before his election last year, is firmly proud of his city, and is eager to share it with the world.
“Daegu has been the capital of the south eastern part of the Korean peninsula for more than 400 years, and it’s the centre of administration and culture of SE Korea. Daegu has also played a leading role in the industrialization of Korea in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. So I can say that Daegu is now a beautiful city, a mixture of natural beauty, history and modern development.”
Olympic, World and European champion Yelena Isinbayeva flew in Mombasa early this morning to support the Moscow bid.
The two-time World Athlete of the Year sounded extremely confident when asked about the chances of her country winning the right to host the IAAF World Championships in Athletics.
“First of all I would like to say that it would be a big honour for my country if the IAAF chose us to be the hosts of the outdoor World Championships.”
“In Moscow we have a lot of the best athletes in the world, we have Olympic champions, World champions and World record holders and yet we have never hosted such a big competition.”
“It would be such a great celebration for people in Moscow to be able to watch their athletes compete live!”
“The 2011 Championships are important to my country but they are also important to me too because it will be my last World Championships and I would like to compete in front of my home crowd for such a big occasion.”
“I would be so proud if the IAAF decided to give the Championships to Moscow because I have broken so many records and yet my countrymen have never seen one of my records.”
“But the World Championships in Moscow would be very important for the development of the sport in our country.”
“Everyone enjoyed the World Indoor Championships in Moscow last winter, we offered such a great show and now they are all expecting the outdoor World Champs!”
“Before coming here to Mombasa everyone was asking me ‘do you think we have a chance’ and I would reply ‘of course we do’”
“We have a great stadium and great facilities and if anything extra was needed we would be prepared to build it. I’m sure we are able to organise the best World Championships ever.”
Presentations will start at 8:50 local time tomorrow morning with announcements expected to take place at 15:00 (GMT +3)
The 11th IAAF World Championships in Athletics will be held in Osaka, Japan in 2007, and the 12th edition of the championships will be hosted by Berlin, Germany in 2009.