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PROTRACK » GENERAL » IAAF encourages Melbourne to bid for 2019 World Champs

IAAF encourages Melbourne to bid for 2019 World Champs

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Athletics Australia president Rob Fildes gives IAAF president Lamine Diack a tour of the new Victorian Athletics Centre.

IAAF chief urges Melbourne to bid for 2019 World Championships
From: AAP
9 February 2011

MELBOURNE has been encouraged to bid for the 2019 world athletics championships by the sport's most powerful figure, IAAF president Lamine Diack.
Diack was in Melbourne to inspect Victoria's new home of track and field at Albert Park.

"2019 is open and I was saying to Rob (Australian Athletics president Rob Fildes) and I said, 'Why not say we want the world championships in 2019 and work on that, starting now','' Diack said.

"You deserve to have a world championships in this country.''

The new venue has international standard facilities and could host a world championships if temporary seating was brought in to double the seating capacity to at least 20,000.

Australia hasn't hosted an athletics events of any magnitude since the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne in 2006, and the IAAF Grand Prix final in Melbourne in 2001.

Brisbane failed in a bid to host the 2011 world championships, which will be held in Daegu, South Korea later this year.

The 2013 and 2015 world championships will be held in Moscow and Beijing respectively, with London wanting the 2017 titles.

With the events held alternatively within Europe and outside, Diack said Australia should aim for 2019, with the hosting rights to be decided in 2013.

Fildes said Sydney and Brisbane were also capable of hosting the event, but warned it was an expensive exercise with the event requiring considerable infrastructure such as an athletes' village.

"It's a large commitment from a city and a state government,'' he said.

"Brisbane's cost were going to around $400 million which Premier Beattie had agreed to when were presented in Mombassa three years ago.

"It's a matter of an Australia city taking up the mantle and really wanting to pursue it under our enthusiastic guidelines.

"The world championships is something we'd love to do but we'd have to have a strong and committed city and state to want to do that.''

Meanwhile Fildes will fly to Kathmandu in Nepal next week to present a case for Australia becoming a competing member of the Asian Athletics Association.

Australia would retain its membership of Oceania, but its athletes could compete in the Asian titles.

"Our desire to compete at the Asian athletics championships is from a competition perspective only and the benefits that will provide are reward enough,'' Fildes said.

"The next competition is in Kobe, Japan only six weeks before the world championships later this year and we would obviously love to be involved.''

He said AA was also pushing for an Australian venue to be added to the 14 countries around the world that host Diamond League athletics events.



Rebuke on Asia tilt but athletics chief Lamine Diack praises Australian athletic's progress
By Ron Reed
Herald Sun
February 10, 2011

AUSTRALIAN track and field is going places. That was the upbeat message for the sport's most senior official, Lamine Diack, when he visited Melbourne.
The veteran president of the International Association of Athletics Federations was pleased to hear it, except perhaps in one important sense.

He seemed surprised, even perturbed, to hear Athletics Australia president Rob Fildes say while introducing him to the media that Australia was about to apply to become a member of the Asian Athletics Council.

Diack responded by saying the IAAF's constitution was "very clear" - Australia was part of the Oceania Federation and would remain so.

It was unclear whether this amounted to a significant political skirmish or a simple communication breakdown, but the upshot was not in doubt.

Australia will not be leaving New Zealand and the myriad specks in the Pacific to their own devices any time soon, as soccer has done to its great benefit.

Fildes agreed that the change, which he will push for at a meeting in Kathmandu, Nepal, next week, would see Australia "become a competing member of Asian athletics ... that's the simplest way to express it, but not a political member as such."

But this might be a case of slowly, slowly catch the monkey, as they say in Asia.

Fildes clearly believes that's where the future lies for a sport that has slipped so far off the pace in terms of public interest that the world championships in Korea later this year have so far - and for the first time - failed to attract any TV coverage in Australia.

AA is working hard to change that, aware of the sponsorship ramifications.

Fildes walks a fine line between what he insists is an important commitment to Oceania and the "massive opportunities" available in a region that brings together more than half the world's population.

"Asia is obviously - geographically, economically and in sports terms - a vast part of our future," he said.

He said if he was welcomed aboard in Kathmandu, Australia would send a team to the Asian championships in Kobe, Japan, in July, just before the worlds and would look at bidding to host the event in the future.

Diack said he supported the bid to compete in Asia but that Australia was an integral part of Oceania and "a complete transfer like in soccer is not an option".

Diack has been touring Oceania for three weeks, looking at the state of the sport and promoting his own agenda of getting children involved - and perhaps drumming up support.

The 77-year-old former long jumper, football coach and politician, who has been president of the IAAF since 1999 and on the executive for 34 years, is standing for re-election in August, hoping to be in charge for the organisation's centenary next year.

He was shown Melbourne's new athletics headquarters in Albert Park, where the track is about to be laid.

It should be ready for athletes to train on by April.

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