IAAF hails ‘wonderful celebration’ despite empty seats at Moscow 2013
Despite many key events taking place in front of vast swathes of empty seats, the IAAF, international athletics’ governing body, has described the Moscow 2013 world championships as "a wonderful celebration" of the sport.
The event, the 14th track and field world championships, attracted a total of 268,548 spectators for the evening sessions of the nine day competition, which came to an end at the Luzhniki Stadium on Sunday. The total cumulative evening audience, once VIPS, guests, media and athletes seats were included, reached 396,548.
According to the IAAF, which released the figures, that number beat the 261,782 who attended the evening sessions at the previous world championships, in the Korean city of Daegu, two years ago.
The organisation did not release figures for morning sessions in Moscow, which took place in a largely-empty arena. The capacity of the Luzhniki Stadium, which was the centrepiece of the 1980 Olympic Games, was capped by organisers at 50,000 before the championships began, although it can hold 80,000 people at its peak.
"Aside from football, no other Olympic sport can attract that number of spectators to a stadium for its world championships," insisted Lamine Diack, the longtime president of the IAAF.
"Moscow has again proved we are the most universal of all sports and 203 nations competing; this is a record for the IAAF world championships," he added.
Usain Bolt, the transcendent star of the sport who added three more gold medals during the championships, was rather less enamoured, giving Moscow 2013 seven out of ten, when asked for his appraisal of the event after his final event on Sunday.
While the championships will chiefly be remembered for empty seats, largely blamed on Muscovites’ tendency to escape the city in August, and the continuing furore over Russia's anti-gay law, the country's sports minister Vitaly Mutko maintained that "we didn't have any failures".
He added: “This championship has provided an opportunity to promote this sport and the legacy for Moscow is that we hope thousand, hundreds of thousands in fact, will get involved in athletics. We have more than 6000 sports schools in Moscow, and more than 3.5 million children, so there potential is there.
“I don’t think the economic impact on Moscow can be assessed at this stage but it will be positive. I think we responded to what the IAAF wanted, and they have very high demands," Mutko concluded.
The IAAF, meanwhile, said initial global television figures were 'very encouraging', although data is currently only available for the opening three days of the meeting, a period which included Bolt's 100m victory on Sunday 11th August.
Amongst the highlights were the 2.87 million audience in Russia for Yelena Isinbayeva's pole vault gold medal, a number three times that of any event at Daegu 2011; an audience of four million for the 100m final in Germany, a higher audience for broadcaster ZDF than for its coverage of June's Confederations Cup; and an 81 per cent increase in average audience in the UK, where the BBC took back the rights from Channel 4 for this edition.
There were also predictably record audiences for the women's marathon in Japan, with the start time controversially switched to the afternoon in Moscow, the hottest part of the day, to ensure a better timeslot in the country.
“The TV data for the opening three days is very encouraging with an increase in the audience on the last world championships," Diack said. "In 2011, five billion people around the world watched and we are confident that number will be bettered for Moscow."
The next world championships will take place in 2015 in Beijing's Bird's Nest stadium, the site of Bolt's breakthrough triumphs at the 2008 Olympic Games.blog comments powered by Disqus
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