As the IAAF Evaluation Commission headed out of the UK towards the Middle East, the London 2017 bid team were encouraged by the warm words of approval from IAAF Senior Vice President and Evaluation Commission Chairman Bob Hersh at the close of their three day visit to the UK.
Describing his evaluation team as “very pleased and impressed” and coming off the back of a successful World Championships in Daegu, Korea last month, Hersh underlined what the Commission were looking for:
“We had virtually full stadiums every night, great performances, and a tremendous diversity of participation and success. 41 countries had medal winners, whilst 66 had countries had athletes finishing in the top eight.
“We look for successful world championships and in reviewing bids we look for countries, cities and organising committees capable of delivering success to us.
“We have been very pleased and impressed with what we’ve seen here in London,” he confirmed.
Whilst Hersh was certain to underline that the Commission’s duty was to report the facts of the bid back to the voting members, he reflected on the strengths of the bid, with particular reference to the huge appetite for World Class athletics already enjoyed by British spectators:
“The passion and commitment of UK Athletics and their team and the experience they have in organising athletics competitions both for us like the world indoor championships, world cross country championships and other world series events – they’ve done for us very successfully.
“Also the Samsung Diamond League meeting which is very successful, they fill the stadium here in London for two days – and that shows something else that’s important to us when we’ve seen evidence of it –and that’s the commitment and enthusiasm of athletics fans in the UK.
“The strong ticket demand for athletics in the Olympics are a part of that but even away from the Olympics we know there is a tradition of the culture of athletics as a premier sporting event here in the UK and London.
“We’ve seen that, we’ve seen the stadium which as we know is a world class state of the art stadium, we’ve also been very gratified to see the inclusion of outstanding athletes and other British athletes as part of the athlete commission in the team and the bidding committee – that’s a plus for us.
“We’ve had a good visit and we appreciate the opportunity we’ve had to see it.”
Finally, the Commission confirmed they were satisfied with the details outlining the future of the Olympic stadium, Hersh declaring:
“Based on our very good meeting yesterday – which you’ve probably read about in the press this morning – and the assurances that we’ve received from the government, we are satisfied there will be a stadium with a track in it and we will be able to hold the 2017 world championships in that stadium. We are very pleased to have that issue resolved so we can go on to evaluating the technical and other elements of the bid.”
Responding to the Evaluation Commission’s words, Lord Coe summarised the Bid team’s feelings over the 48 hour visit, describing it as ‘workman like’:
“Everything we needed to show and everything we needed to explain we did and our presentation went extremely well yesterday. The pre- meeting we had to really tackle the stadium discussion was a really important one.
“From my side of the fence it went extraordinarily well… and Ed (Warner) and the team have done more than enough to get my vote!”