|The infrastructure already in place for the 2012 London Games put the city in a great position to host worlds [GETTY]|
London will stage the 2017 world championships, beating Doha for the showcase track event and assuring an athletics legacy after the 2012 Olympics.
The decision on Friday by the 27-member IAAF Council denied Qatar a second major global sports event after it was awarded the 2022 World Cup last year.
IAAF President Lamine Diack said London won by a vote of 16-10. The International Association of Athletics Federations chose Europe rather than Doha, despite a promise of an air-conditioned stadium to contain the desert heat and tens of millions in dollars to fund the sport.
“We’ve got the games in 2012, the world athletics championships in 2017 and world championships in virtually all other sports.It’s an extraordinary clean sweep for British sport”
IAAF President Lamine Diack
“I never had any stress about this,” Diack said.
“I said whoever wins deserves it.”
Sebastian Coe, an IAAF vice president who heads the organising committee for the 2012 London Olympics, said the vote rewarded the city’s “global reach” and Britain’s long history in the sport.
“The stadium will be stuffed to the gills with people who want to be there,” Coe said.
“We’ve got the games in 2012, the world athletics championships in 2017 and world championships in virtually all other sports. It’s an extraordinary clean sweep for British sport.”
‘Fought to the death’
It was a major victory for Coe, who has pledged to keep track and field at the Olympic Stadium after 2012. While the future of the $780 million stadium has been bogged down in financial and legal wrangling, Diack has also spoken out strongly to ensure the running track remains after the games.
“I rejoice because we fought to the death that the stadium should stay a track stadium,” the IAAF leader said on Friday.
London has track traditions dating to the 1908 Olympics and a huge multinational fan base in one of the world’s great capitals. It stressed the need to keep the championships in the sport’s European heartland where fan and sponsorship interest is assured.
“We have always been committed to a lasting athletics legacy for the Olympic Stadium and being able to host the World Athletics Championships in 2017 is the icing on the cake,” said Margaret Ford, chair of the Olympic Park Legacy Company.
Both bids were considered so good that, earlier this week, the IAAF considered awarding the 2019 championships as well to satisfy both cities.
However, both cities insisted they only wanted 2017.
The intensity of the bidding recalled the vote for the World Cup last December when Qatar upstaged the favourites for the 2022 tournament.
Qatar had been looking to complete a perfect sports trifecta in five years. Doha is also bidding for the 2020 Olympics.
With 850,000 citizens in the country, Qatar is dwarfed by greater London alone, which has about 8 million. Doha promised to air-condition its 40,000-seat Al Khalifa Stadium, part of a $400 million facelift of a state of the art stadium. Doha proposed holding the championships in September to avoid the worst of the summer heat. The championships usually are in July or August.
While Doha would have been a step into the unknown for the IAAF, the preparations for the Olympics next year showed London is on solid footing.
Ticket demand for track and field next summer has been overwhelming and it should be for 2017, too, in the Olympic Stadium when its size is reduced from 80,000 to about 60,000 seats.
Since 1999, only three editions of the biennial championships have been held in Western Europe. The next two – Moscow in 2013 and Beijing in 2015 – also skip the region.