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Doha can set standard for future, says Coe

IAAF chief pleased with Qatar’s readiness ahead of the first World Championships in the Middle East.
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International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) President Sebastian Coe at the IAAF Council meeting in Doha on Monday. Photo: Getty Images for the IAAF

Innovation has been at the heart of Doha’s World Championships build-up and it could set a benchmark for future events, according to Sebastian Coe, the president of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).

Speaking to the media after the IAAF Council meeting in Doha on Monday, the Briton said he was pleased with the preparations for the September 27-October 6 event.

“Doha is really well prepared and ready. Everything is in place. Now it’s up to the athletes to put on a show that will inspire many, many more youngsters, not only in Qatar, but all over the world,” said the former two-time Olympic champion.

Coe was particularly happy with the changes in the programme. For the first time, there will not be morning sessions while events like mixed relays and midnight marathons have piqued interest and raised expectations.

“There’re many things we’re doing for the first time – evening sessions, specific focus on field events, chance to have some of the biggest athletes in the sport in combined events competing on the same day, midnight marathon, mixed relays, plenty of digital innovations and innovations in broadcast technology,” he said.

There will be plenty of research going on in the background in Qatar, especially on the management of heat and Coe felt Doha could offer a blueprint for the future events, especially the 2020 Olympics. The hot summer weather in Tokyo had caused concerns on athletes’ well-being during the Games.

“The interesting thing here is how they’ve tackled the climatic challenges. While there has been a lot of effort and time put in to understand the technology, it has actually given us an opportunity to analyse the management of heat through our medical teams. And it could be very important in the context of the Tokyo Olympic Games,” said the 62-year-old.

Coe highlighted the efforts put in by the Doha organisers to make the athletes comfortable, especially with regard to the use of cooling technology at the Khalifa International Stadium, the main venue.

“If you look at it, the stadium is air conditioned, the warm-up areas are air conditioned, the call rooms are in the same situation, the outdoor facility – we’ll have some cooling mechanism in there and we’ll redouble our efforts on the road courses to make sure the runners are comfortable. So this is a good place to be and it has allowed us to be creative and innovative about the programme and some of these things will be the thumb rules at future World Championships,” he concluded.