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Rediff.com  » Sports » London wins bid to stage 2017 World athletics

London wins bid to stage 2017 World athletics

November 12, 2011 07:44 IST

London will fulfil a promise of a legacy for track and field following next year's Olympics after it was chosen to host the 2017 World Athletics Championships on Friday by beating Doha for the right to stage the global showpiece for the first time.

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) announced the decision after a head-to-head battle in which 2012 Games hosts London won by 16 votes to 10 among the council members.

London's bid, backed by more than 100 top athletes, past and present, had promised a "wealth of expertise and experience, a proven track record of commercial success and a stadium packed full of passionate fans."

"We've worked really hard for this," UK Athletics chief Ed Warner told Reuters. "I'm the optimist in our camp and I've been optimistic all along."

London's victory swept away any lingering doubts over the future of the Olympic Stadium for track and field following the protracted dispute between soccer clubs West Ham United and Tottenham Hotspur.

The uncertainty ended last month when the IAAF was given a signed legal document from the British government guaranteeing the athletics track would be maintained at the Olympic Stadium regardless of which soccer club moved in after the 2012 Games.

Under the terms of new arrangements for the stadium to remain in public ownership, athletics is guaranteed at the Stratford venue for 99 years.

IAAF president Lamine Diack had warned London had no chance of hosting the 2017 worlds if it did not retain the track.

"The maintenance of the track and field legacy was absolutely crucial," said Olympics chief Sebastian Coe, who spearheaded the 2017 bid.

"We do take our responsibility here very, very seriously. Whichever city had prevailed, we still face the same challenges in exciting more people into track and field. We won't let you down.

"It will be such an honour to host our sport's showcase event in the Olympic Stadium and realise a personal and professional dream."

London's bid team, which also included Sports Minister Hugh Robertson, London Mayor Boris Johnson and former Olympic champion Denise Lewis, embraced each other after Diack opened a gold envelope to reveal the victors.

Prime Minister David Cameron, who gave a video message as part of the bid presentation on Friday, said it was "great news for London and the whole country."

"There is no better way to follow the Olympics, and to build on its legacy, than by welcoming the world's greatest athletes back to London for the 2017 world championships," he said in a statement.

CASH INCENTIVES

Oil-rich Qatar, which will host the 2022 football World Cup and is ploughing vast sums into its goal of establishing the desert nation as a major sporting hub, offered the IAAF huge cash incentives totalling over $236 million (146 million pound) as part of its bid.

It proposed underwriting an $80 million budget for the event, spending $120 million on construction, $29 million on guaranteeing sponsorship for all events leading up to 2017 and covering the $7.2 million prize fund for the championships.

London also offered to underwrite the prize money, while saying it could raise $1 billion in sponsorship revenues.

Doha's key message to the IAAF was "like never before," but the Gulf state will have to wait for another day.

Bid committee vice-chairman and IAAF vice-president Dahlan Al-Hamad congratulated the victorious London team.

"The main thing is that it was a fair battle, we wish them good luck and we believe that in sport there is winning and losing, but at the end of the day all of us are working for the good of the sport," he told Reuters in the lobby of the Fairmont Hotel where the IAAF Council held its vote.

"I think we did all we could."

England's previous bid to land a major global sporting event -- the 2018 soccer World Cup -- ended in embarrassment and humiliation last December, attracting just two FIFA member votes in the first ballot, including that of the English FIFA vice president.

London also had to banish unhappy memories of previous failed attempts to host the biennial world championships of track and field.

A bid for the 2001 event had to be abandoned after initial plans for an athletics track to be included in the redevelopment of Wembley Stadium were scrapped.

London was awarded the 2005 championships in 2001 but had to give up the opportunity to Helsinki when a proposed new stadium at Picketts Lock in North London was deemed too expensive. London also ditched a bid for the 2015 event because of the legal wrangle over the Olympic Stadium's future tenant.

London and Doha were the only candidates for the 2017 showpiece. The 2013 championships will be staged in Moscow with Beijing hosting the showpiece event two years later.

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