Athletes Call Out Qatar As IAAF World Championships Host
The IAAF World Championships concluded yesterday in Qatar, and athletes "have not been shy about their concerns" over the "sweltering heat," according to Joshua Robinson of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. French decathlete Kevin Mayer said of the 10-day event, "We can all see that this is a catastrophe. There's no one in the stands. The heat isn't suitable at all." The '22 FIFA World Cup is headed to Qatar, but the IAAF World Championships are the "highest profile event" the country has hosted so far. Attendance was "below 70% of capacity for the first three days at Khalifa International Stadium, where the number of seats had already been reduced to 21,000." Organizers "declined to provide figures for subsequent nights, but by the time event finals rolled around on Friday evening, there were vast swaths of empty seats around the lower bowl." While performances in the stadium "haven't been affected, the events held outside it, such as the marathon and race walking, have been severely warped." The women's marathon, which started at midnight, saw 28 runners "fail to finish in a field of 62." The men's 50-kilometer race walk was "won in just over 4 hours, more than 30 minutes off world-record pace as runners poured ice over their heads." The athletes "faced other heat-related challenges, like coping with the wild temperature swings caused by the air conditioning" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 10/6).
BAD REPORTS: In N.Y., Tariq Panja wrote the IAAF World Championships were a "largely joyless 10 days of action." Athletes were "almost uniformly scathing in their assessments." Local organizers "remained largely out of sight the past week." Their communications team at Hill & Knowlton "did not respond to a request to facilitate interviews with organizers." On Friday, eight days into the championships, organizers "finally had enough fans to remove a tarp that covered a swatch of seats and fill them with people" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/6). NBC Sports’ Tim Layden noted this World Championships was "not like any before." Layden: "They were the first to take place in the Middle East in the tiny nation of Qatar, which has little history in the sport of track and field. They were the first to take place in autumn, long after the season is customarily over and just 10 months before the Olympic Games. They were the first to take place in an air conditioning outdoor stadium as relief from the punishing heat and humidity. Attendance was disappointing early in the meet, with vast sections of empty seats, more full near the end, especially when a Qatari won Gold” (“IAAF World Championships,” NBC, 10/6).