18 JAN 2008 General News Zürich, Switzerland

Zürich – back to appearance fees, pacemakers and larger international programme in 2008

The new Letzigrund stadium, Zürich, Switzerland (loc)The new Letzigrund stadium, Zürich, Switzerland (loc) © Copyright

Weltklasse Zürich 2008 will tie in with the Olympic Games in Beijing. On 29 August 2008, only five days after the closing ceremony in China, the world’s athletics elite will meet again in the Letzigrund Stadium.

More Promotional Agreements, Less Prize Money

The Organizing Comittee of the meeting has reviewed the premiere in the new stadium of last year, and has amended its strategy: more budget for the stars, pacemakers in some races and more events for the international programme.

In 2007, Weltklasse Zürich had taken the premiere in the new stadium as an opportunity to introduce numerous innovations. Since then, detailed evaluations - market research, interviews,and questionnaires - were conducted to examine their success.

“We wanted to know, whetherwe are on the right track,“ explained Meeting Director Patrick K. Magyar at the first mediaconference of the new year. The analyses have helped the organizing committee to determinewhat needs to be amended for the 2008 edition of the meeting.

The results of the evaluations with regards to the athletes’ management were clear: “Our new prize money schedule did not prove to be successful. We had doubled our prize money, with the intention to create a closer link between earnings and performances. However, stars and medal winners of major events in particular insist on promotional agreements with a guaranteed sum.“

As a consequence, Weltklasse Zürich has reduced the prize money budget by one third to approx. one million Swiss francs. The overall budget for athletes, however, will be increased from 2.6 million to 3 million Swiss francs.

“We would like to invite the world’s best athletes to Zurich - despite fierce competition among the meetings after the Olympic Games. We would like to present athletics at its very best, and this requires more funds.”

Pacemakers

The decision in 2007 to do without pacemakers in middle and long distance races was almost revolutionary.

“About two thirds of the public thought it was right not to include pacemakers. But about two thirds of our fans also wanted faster races.“

In 2008, a new approach will try to take all inputs into account: “We will have pacemakers in some, but not all races. Their job will be to aim at milestone results, such as 3:30 in the men’s 1500m, 4:00 in the women’s 1500m, or 8:00 minutes in the men’s 3000m steeplechase,“ concluded Magyar.

More Events

The main programme of Weltklasse Zürich 2008 will offer more events.

Andreas Hediger, Technical Director, explained: “In 2007, we organized the very first meeting in the brand new Letzigrund Stadium. Therefore, we chose for a ‚conservative’ programme of events, staging less events, and also leaving out events such as the 400m Hurdles or the 3000m Steeplechase. The technical infrastructure stood the test, and therefore, we will be able to include more events. Our fans will undoubtedly look forward to the traditional 3000m Steeplechase and of course the 5000m.“

The 'Zürich Trophy’, the 4x100m relay, will once again cap the international programme. “Supporting athletics in our own country is of paramount importance. We will therefore not only support the relay, but also plan a mini match of nations for our national programme. This match will be an ideal platform for our upcoming Swiss athletes to compete against athletes from abroad,“ confirmed  Hediger.

As the technical infrastructure is also ideal for wheelchair races, Weltklasse Zürich is pleased to be able to stage an attractive wheelchair event in 2008.

Many Innovations Successful

The evaluation of last year’s meeting also indicated that many of the innovations were successful. “The shorter programme, new graphics, the ‘Athlete of the Day’ contest, as well as the name bibs found the clear approval of our audience,“ Magyar stated. “Our detailed evaluations permit highly differentiated conclusions. Many elements have proved successful, some have to be only slightly adjusted, and others call for some amendments. We are very confident, as we know that we are moving in the right direction, and also how to go about the future meeting editions.“

Weltklasse Zürich