London trumps Doha to secure historic games

 

The World Championships will be staged in the United Kingdom for the first time in 2017 after London was chosen as host ahead of the Qatari capital, Doha yesterday.

The International Association of Athletics Federations reached its decision in Monaco following closing statements from both cities. The London presentation, which was led by IAAF vice-president and London 2012 chairman, Sebastian Coe, succeeded with 16 votes to 10.

Coe said: "It's a great, great result and it's down to the clarity of the message that [UK Athletics chairman] Ed Warner and the team have been working on. The maintenance of the track and field legacy was absolutely crucial."

The decision completed a notable double for Coe, the former Conservative MP having led London's successful bid in Singapore six years ago for the right to stage the 2012 Olympic Games. To secure a major championship as a legacy for his sport in the troubled showpiece stadium in Stratford, it emerged that Coe and the London 2017 team had kept an ace up their sleeve for the presentation yesterday.

They came up with a £5m pledge to match the well-publicised Doha offer to pay the bill for the prize money, thus nullifying much of the lure of taking the championships to the oil-rich Qatari capital, which last year won the bid to stage the 2020 football World Cup. "After Singapore I would have given permission for someone to shoot me if I worked on another bid again," Coe said. "But I had an urge to complete unfinished business.

"We've got the Olympic Games in 2012, the World Athletics Championships in 2017 and world championships in virtually all other sports. It's an extraordinary clean sweep for British sport."

It was certainly a sweeping victory, wiping out the painful memory of London's failure to provide a suitable stadium after winning the right to stage the 2005 championships, which had to be passed on to Helsinki instead. This time the stadium is already in place, and so is the prize money.

"We decided it a long time ago but the bidding experts tell you to keep a late reveal to give you some punch on the last day," Warner said of the £5m guarantee. "It was actually all faked into our budgets but squirreled away so we could reveal it with a flourish.

"It certainly made people sit up and take notice because there had been a lot of talk about our rival bid being a rich and wealthy bid. It's a small price to pay for what is the third largest sporting event on the planet and it's never been in the UK before."

It will also offer world junior sprint champion Jodie Williams a chance to shine on a home stage when she is close to her prime. The 17-year-old Hertfordshire student gave a presentation to the IAAF council yesterday. "She was one of our little bits of stardust," Warner said.

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