Empty stands take the shine off IAAF World Championships in Doha

first_img Reuters DohaOctober 1, 2019UPDATED: October 1, 2019 10:05 IST More than half of the Khalifa Stadium was empty during the men’s 100m final (Reuters Photo)HIGHLIGHTSLow attendance has been cause of concern at Doha World ChampionshipsThe 48,000-capacity venue was barely half full for the men’s 100m finalThe public have also been absent from the road racesThe embarrassingly low attendance at the world athletics championships was blamed on late start times and a boycott of the country by other nations in the region by the event’s organisers on Monday.Athletes, pundits and global television audiences have widely criticised the poor turnout at the air-conditioned Khalifa Stadium over the first three days of competition.The 48,000-capacity venue was barely half full for the men’s 100 metres final on Saturday.On Sunday, when the women’s 100 metres headlined the action, it was almost completely empty and pole vault bronze medallist Ekaterini Stefanidi said it was the smallest crowd she had competed in front of this year, including at the Greek national championship.The absence of cheering fans meant the United States team who won the inaugural 4×400 metres mixed relay title on Sunday opted not to run a lap of honour and disappeared straight down the exit tunnel.The public have also been absent from the road races, held near the waterfront.However, there were considerably more fans in the stadium on Monday, including a noisy contingent of Ethiopian supporters, for a programme which included the men’s 5000 metres and 400 metres hurdles finals.There were also several groups of fans, each wearing identical shirts, dotted around the stadium which appeared to be slightly over half full.The local organising committee (LOC) said in a statement that attendances on Friday and Saturday were “solid” but were “down on our expectations” on Sunday, which they said “coincided with the start of the working week in Qatar”advertisement”The challenge we face with a competition schedule that is geared to support global TV viewership is that some finals are not starting until the late evening,” it said.”This impacts on the number of spectators remaining until the end of the session.”The LOC also suggested that local audiences were more interested in middle-distance races than sprint events and said it was “confident with our additional communications (that) we will see more attendees for longer periods”.It then mentioned the boycott imposed on Qatar by Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Egypt, who accuse the Gulf state of supporting terrorism, which it denies.”Our vision was for a first world championships in the Middle East. An IAAF World Athletics Championships that would welcome the world and connect to new fans. Despite facing unique challenges as hosts, in terms of the political (boycott), that ambition remains,” it said.The four boycotting nations have, however, sent athletes to Doha, and Bahrain won bronze in the 4×400 mixed relay.Stefandi disappointed, Gatlin, Shelly-Ann not concerned”It is disappointing,” said Stefanidi. “I was all for bringing the event to new areas, different environments like the Middle East too because we needed to promote the sport.”However, women’s 100 metres winner Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce was indifferent.”I actually did notice the stadium wasn’t full but it’s part of athletics,” the Jamaican said after Sunday’s race. “Doha got the rights to host the championship, you just have to give and take. I just wanted to put on a good performance focus, I tried not to focus on the crowd.”Justin Gatlin, silver medallist in the men’s 100 metres on Saturday, took a similar view, saying: “When we are on the track, I think it doesn’t matter whether there are 100 people watching or 100,000 people watching. We want to be able to put on a great show.”Also Read | IAAF World Championships: Annu Rani 1st Indian to reach finals of women’s javelin throwAlso See:For sports news, updates, live scores and cricket fixtures, log on to indiatoday.in/sports. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for Sports news, scores and updates.Get real-time alerts and all the news on your phone with the all-new India Today app. Download from Post your comment Do You Like This Story? Awesome! Now share the story Too bad. Tell us what you didn’t like in the comments Posted byAkshay Ramesh Tags :Follow DohaFollow IAAF World ChampionshipsFollow Justin GatlinFollow Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce Next Empty stands take the shine off IAAF World Championships in DohaThe absence of cheering fans has left quite a few star athletes disappointed at IAAF World Championships in Doha. The United States team who won the inaugural 4×400 metres mixed relay title on Sunday opted not to run a lap of honour and disappeared straight down the exit tunnel.advertisementlast_img read more