Dahlan calls for patience in building fan base
The performances of Mutaz and Samba are sure to attract young fans to the sport in the future, says top Qatari official.
The 2019 IAAF World Championships in Doha was the culmination of a dream that began 22 years ago but the efforts to spread the sport in the region will continue, according to the Local Organising Committee’s Director General Dahlan Al Hamad.
“The dream began with the 1997 Doha Grand Prix at the Qatar Sports Club stadium. And now, with the ’19 IAAF World Championships, it’s complete. The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has succeeded in taking the competition to newer areas. I believe the Middle East and North Africa regions will be the future of the sport,” he said.
The Qatari official, speaking at a press conference along with IAAF President Sebastian Coe, felt the Doha Worlds would help boost the sport’s development in the region.
“We didn’t host the World Championships just for the sake of hosting it. It was our commitment to athletes around the world. We wanted to give them great competition facilities and experiences, and I’m happy they liked it. I’m sure the ’19 Worlds will help expand the sport further in our area,” he said.
He touched upon the issue of less number of fans during initial days. The former IAAF vice president requested for more patience.
“We can’t expect fans overnight. When we first started our competitions 22 years ago, not many people came to see it. But we persevered, and fan interest gradually grew. We slowly introduced entry fee, and now, our annual Diamond League meets are sold out events despite it being ticketed,” he said.
“Over the years, we’ve started engaging the public more, and it’s started to show results. This year, we enjoyed the support of more than 100 international communities in Qatar, and we’re thankful to them for making the competition a big success,” he added.
Dahlan felt the Qatar Athletics Federation (QAF) would be the biggest beneficiaries of the ’19 IAAF Worlds.
“High jumper Mutaz Essa Barshim and 400M hurdler Abderrahman Samba brought young Qatari children into the stadium. They saw their heroes compete on the world stage and become champions at home. I’m sure many of these young fans would’ve been inspired to take up athletics. I feel the QAF are the biggest beneficiaries of the event’s success,” he said.
Athletes from Asia also came in for some special praise from the continental governing body’s chief.
“China, Japan, Qatar and Bahrain all did well in Doha, and I’m pleased with their success. It’ll give new impetus to the sport in the continent,” he said.