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Nebiolo intervenes to save Berlin Olympic Stadium for Athletics

Nebiolo intervenes to save historic Berlin Olympic Stadium for Athletics

3 April 1998 - The Olympic Stadium of Berlin, which hosted the 1936 Olympic Games, is threatened with conversion to a stadium designed solely for football matches. The possibility has alarmed vast sectors of public opinion in Germany and internationally and, especially, sports and athletics lovers around the world. The Berlin Stadium was the scene of Jesse Owens’ historic victories: four Olympic gold medals, a feat equalled only forty-eight years later by Carl Lewis.

In view of the historical significance of the Olympic Stadium, IAAF President Primo Nebiolo has written to the Governing Mayor of Berlin, Mr Eberhard Diepgen, to ask that the project be reviewed so as to maintain an athletics track in the Stadium, which has for the past sixty years hosted the Berlin Sport Festival, ISTAF.

"The Olympic Stadium in Berlin, writes the IAAF President, is one of the most highly regarded multi-sport arenas in the world. It would be hard for many of us in the international sporting community to understand how Berlin would wish to discard such an historically important discipline as athletics. The Olympic Stadium has acquired stature and significance in the world of athletics, not only through the Olympic Games, but also thanks to the other numerous international athletic events, national championships and Olympic trials … The Berlin Sport Festival ISTAF has been part of these exceptional events for the past six decades, bringing to the stadium, year after year, the best of world class athletics, and becoming part of the IAAF Grand Prix series since its inception, as well as hosting the Grand Prix Final in 1988. The integration of Berlin’s ISTAF in the inaugural IAAF Golden League is further testimony to its important place in the successful future of the world athletics movement…

"We feel strongly that the continually expanding metropolis of Berlin, situated in the heart of Europe, would stand to benefit from such an attractive marketing vehicle as this major athletics meeting. A renovated and modernised Olympic Stadium, equipped with modern athletics facilities, would most surely attract future continental and world championships as well as the Olympic Games.."

Nebiolo went on to confirm his readiness to discuss this problem in greater detail and wrote to both the Chancellor of the German Republic, Helmut Kohl and the German Minister for Internal Affairs, Manfred Kanther, enclosing a copy of his letter to Mr Diepgen.