London beats Doha in race to host 2017 World Athletics

London has been awarded the 2017 World Athletics Championships ahead of Doha

Sportsbeat
By Sportsbeat
olympic stadium
The Olympic Stadium will be the centrepiece of the 2017 event Photo: Locog/Getty Images

olympic stadium

London will stage the 2017 World Athletics Championships after their promise of legacy trumped a big money bid from oil-rich rivals Doha.

London made much of how their championships would be more attractive to commercial and broadcast partners, with mainland Europe still the IAAF’s biggest paymasters.

But in the final presentations to the IAAF’s 27-strong ruling council, Doha didn’t hold back – offering a cash package of £146.9m, which included £5m prize money and £18m in sponsorship and broadcast money – unprecedented in the sport’s history.

UK Athletics countered by talking up the £700m in commercial revenue raised by London 2012 Olympic organisers and also, in a surprise last minute move, offered to also cover the costs of the IAAF’s prize fund – meaning, with that money already covered by long-time sponsors, the federation could now spend it at their discretion.

Sports minister Hugh Robertson also campaigned hard, stressing how the UK government had committed billions to sport in the last five years, despite a global recession, and had already trumped Doha’s financial pledge by building a £500m stadium and negotiating an unbreakable guarantee that it will be a home for athletics for 100 years.

Seb Coe, the influential Iaaf vice-president and London 2012 organising committee chairman, fronted a predictably polished final presentation and clearly hoped that his proven tactic of promising a sporting legacy would trump the less sophiscated but equally convincing cold hard cash.

UK Athletics officials Niels de Vos and Ed Warner provided the substance while city mayor Boris Johnson brought his joke book, and the past and future of British athletics – one-time Olympic heptathlon gold medallist Denise Lewis and current world junior champion sprinter Jodie Williams – spoke passionately about the bid.

And in the end their promises were enough as London, which was awarded the event in 2005 but withdrew after failing to fund a stadium and also called time on their 2015 bid because of unresolved worries over retaining a track at the Olympic Stadium, proved a more compelling case.

“This is vindication of London’s promise of an athletics legacy, the IAAF realised the prospect of going back to one of the world’s great cities in the sport’s heartland convinced them,” said Coe.

Mayor Johnson also hailed the victory as a major milestone to delivering a sporting legacy for the capital – a key part of the London 2012 Olympic bid.

“Despite an excellent challenge from Doha, the London team put together a cracking bid which has paid off with this fantastic news today,” he said.

“With the 2017 championships now in the diary next summer’s London Games is just the start of a long and active life for our magnificent stadium.

“In addition to athletics it will host a variety of sports competitions including football as well as a range of other events from major concerts to community activities. I am absolutely thrilled for London.”

© Sportsbeat 2011

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