POSTED: August 24th 2011
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DIACK: Daegu World Championships to boost athletics both in Asia and Korea

IAAF supremo Lamine Diack welcomes 202 countries to Daegu / IAAF image
IAAF supremo Lamine Diack welcomes 202 countries to Daegu / IAAF image

LAURA WALDEN / Sports Features communications

SEOUL/DAEGU: IAAF President Lamine Diack took time out from his busy schedule in Daegu prior to the start of the IAAF World Championships to speak to SportsFeatures.com exclusively about the effect of the event on the growth of athletics in Asia.

Korea also just won the PyeongChang 2018 winter Games and there is much focus on the expansion of sports throughout the continent.


The attendance for Daegu 2011 is excellent and hotels all over the city are sold out. Did you expect such a widespread attendance when the city of Daegu was chosen?


LAMINE DIACK: Four years ago in Mombasa, when selecting Daegu to take over from Berlin, we were conscious of the need to meet a number of challenges, among the most significant of which was athletics’ relatively low standing within Korea.

Today, many onlookers would agree that we acted in the best interests of our sport when we made this choice, offering it exceptional economic opportunities as well as a decisive inroad into the most populous and dynamic continent in the world.

We are also delighted with the 94% ticket sales that the Local Organising Committee (LOC) reported to the IAAF Council on Monday but as the LOC themselves have said we must wait for the championships to begin to see if those ticket sales translate to spectators sitting in the stadium.

Exactly how many countries have signed up now and how many athletes will compete?


LAMINE DIACK: 202 countries with a total of 1945 athletes have entered the championships.

This event is considerably larger than the Berlin World Championships in 2009, do you feel that this is due to a growing interest in Asia for sports in general?


AND


After Tokyo 1991, Osaka 2007 and now Daegu 2011, what kind of effect has hosting the World Championships in Asia had on track and field in general? In recent times the event has been held mostly in Europe. Do you think it will help to grow the sport on the continent?


LAMINE DIACK: Please allow me to answer these two questions together as they are inextricably linked.


As to the potential success of Daegu 2011, on the basis of the twelve previous editions of the IAAF World Championships including the last edition in Berlin, we can already say that the bar by which we measure success is set at a very high level for all hosts, whether they are Daegu this year, Moscow in 2013, Beijing in 2015 or the future editions that follow.

We must not forget that the IAAF World Championships are already the third largest sporting event on the planet after the Olympic Games and the FIFA World Cup and there is no bigger single sport championships taking place anywhere in the world this year.

It’s an enormous organisational task for any city to manage but the IAAF is confident that Daegu will live up to the impressive history of these championships which were first held in 1983, and so we very much look forward to nine exciting days of competition in Korea.

As to the growth of interest in athletics in Asia, Daegu 2011 as you point out will be the third time that the IAAF World Championships, the pinnacle event of the IAAF World Athletics Series has been hosted in Asia, following Tokyo in 1991 and Osaka in 2007, and this year’s championships offer us further opportunities to promote and develop athletics in Korea and Asia in general.

Korea is one of the Asian tiger economies that are the new dynamos of the world, and Asia is a continent possessing more than one-third of the world’s population, so the prospects for growth are huge.


Through television and new media platforms what kind of international following do you anticipate?


LAMINE DIACK: There are approximately 4000 media (press, photographers and broadcasters) in Daegu, the largest group of media for any single sport event apart from the football World Cup, who will relay all the news and action from Daegu 2011 around the world, 24 hours a day.

Based upon the record broadcasting figures from the IAAF World Championships in Berlin in 2009, we expect an accumulative 8 billion TV audience worldwide to watch this sporting spectacular in Daegu.


Have you implemented any special new media or social media platforms to promote the event?


LAMINE DIACK: The IAAF website - www.iaaf.org - has been our strongest on-line promotional tool for the last decide, producing over 3000 news stories per year it has become the specialist news agency for Athletics. It attracted one million unique daily users during the nine days of competition in Berlin, some 17 million page hits per day. 

In Daegu, the IAAF Broadcasting Department will flood our Daegu 2011 competition website with video and audio content, our official photographers Getty Images will illuminate its pages with 1000s of photographers, while on the written editorial side we have a team of 6 dedicated specialist athletics writers covering everything that ‘runs, jumps or throws’ in Daegu.

In the two years since the last championships IAAF has also fully embraced social media, with the establishment of the ‘IAAF Athletics Club’ which is based on Facebook and Twitter, and with the introduction of ‘IAAF Fantasy Athletics’, a fun, virtual way for athletics fans to select and follow their own personal team of top athletes and compare their successes with the line-ups of other athletics fanns.

Chris Turner and Yannis Nikolaou contribute to this interview


Keywords · IAAF · Lamine Diack · Daegu 2011 · athletics world championships


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