SBD/Issue 212/Events & Attractions

Opening Of Track & Field Championships In Edmonton, Alberta

Edmonton "took the centre of the global stage" Friday night with a "spectacular opening ceremony" for the IAAF's World Championships in Athletics, according to Paul Cowan of the EDMONTON SUN, who noted the ceremony cost C$3M to stage. Commonwealth Stadium "was pretty much a sellout as thousands of local performers entertained television viewers worldwide" (EDMONTON SUN, 8/4). The NATIONAL POST's Cam Cole wrote the opening ceremony "for the first time ever incorporated an athletic competition, the start and finish of the men's marathon, as part of the program — and showed, in the process, what can be done with a lot of volunteers and not much money." Edmonton organizing committee CEO Rick LeLacheur, on bidding for this year's event in '97: "We knew it wouldn't be easy, because in a lot of cases, we had to explain not only where Edmonton was, but where Alberta was, and in some cases, where Canada was. ... We knew the IAAF wanted to come to North America, and we had people willing to do the work" (NATIONAL POST, 8/4). In Toronto, James Christie wrote "federal and provincial governments each have put" C$40M into the World Championships, along with C$5M from the city of Edmonton (GLOBE & MAIL, 8/4). In Calgary, George Johnson noted more than 200 countries are participating in the event. A worldwide TV audience of four billion will watch the competition over the ten days, ending on August 12, and more than 2,500 media from around the world will cover the event. Johnson: "These championships are something to be proud of and supported, surely, but for all that, not easily embraced. Certainly not as they would be in other parts of the world. And that's not Edmonton's fault. Track and field, after all, is as indigenous to this part of the world as great white shark attacks. There is, you see, this tiny problem of athlete identification. Meaning, the average Edmontonian has practically none" (CALGARY HERALD, 8/4). The INT'l HERALD TRIBUNE's Christopher Clarey wrote: "Edmontonians, civic-minded and sensitive enough to passing judgments from passers-through, are expected to buy [tickets] with enough frequency in the next week to produce a respectable average attendance of more than 30,000. Ticket revenue already has surpassed that generated during the world championships in Athens in 1997 and in Seville in 1999" (INT'L HERALD TRIBUNE, 8/4). In Toronto, Chris Zelkovich: "This event is as intriguing and exciting as any. Enhancing it is television's ability to bring viewers both the big and little picture. ... The CBC is providing a view of the event that includes the entire world, while ABC is acting as if it were the national championships" (TORONTO STAR, 8/6).

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