US unable to host Worlds

[b]LONDON (AP) – The IAAF’s top-ranking American sees no prospect of the United States hosting track and field’s world championships, an event yet to be held in the country that traditionally produces big stars and dominates the medal count.

“We just don’t have the wherewithal, starting with the fact that there is no stadium that exists that could accommodate it,” Bob Hersh, the senior vice president of the International Association of Athletics Federations, said Tuesday in an interview with The Associated Press.

[/b]Thirteen world championships have been held going back to the first edition in 1983, with the most recent in August in Daegu, South Korea. Nine championships have taken place in Europe, three in Asia and one in North America (Edmonton, Alberta, in 2001).

The 2013 worlds will be in Moscow and the 2015 edition in Beijing. London and Doha, Qatar, are competing for the 2017 championships.

“It’s obviously something I would love to do and USA Track and field would love to do,” Hersh said. “The IAAF would love to have us host one.”

The United States has won 122 medals overall, including 50 gold, at the championships. The Americans led the count again in Daegu with 25 total and 12 gold.

Stanford bid unsuccessfully for the 1997, 1999 and 2001 championships, but is no longer a potential contender because the track has been removed from its stadium. It is a pattern that Hersh finds disconcerting.

“You look at large stadiums in cities that are big enough to host it and they’ve removed the tracks,” he said, citing stadiums in Austin, Texas; Columbus, Ohio; and Seattle.

Outside the Olympics, track and field has struggled in the United States from a shortage of public interest, sponsors and television coverage. Doping scandals have also tainted the sport.

At a time of financial uncertainty, the chances of developing a stadium capable of hosting the championships aren’t promising.

“The operating costs of a world championships are huge,” Hersh said. “If you also have the huge capital costs of constructing a stadium that does not exist, or reconfiguring one, that’s a lot of money.”

Hersh sees no U.S. bid emerging for the 2019 championships and won’t speculate on when the country might eventually put forward a candidate.

“There are discussions. It’s not something that’s buried and forgotten,” he said. “It’s an issue we’d very much like to address, but the challenges are so great. We can’t say we’ve got a plan or we’re going to do this or that in ‘X’ number of years.”

Hersh, a member of the IAAF Council since 1999, was elevated to the No. 2 position behind IAAF President Lamine Diack in elections in Daegu. He heads the IAAF evaluation commission that is visiting London and Doha before the vote for the 2017 host city on Nov. 11 in Monaco.

I do find it sad the lack of interest in track and field in the US. During the world championship coverage on the national tv channel, one hour of coverage was cut out in place of an informerical for geriatic vitamins. I also find the tv coverage quite bad. They’ll spend 15-20 minutes covering the 10K, and show one throw or one jump from the field event winners that takes a whole 1 minute of tv time.

I was quite happy with the track coverage in the US on Universal (they only made us watch about 1 lap at the start and 1 lap at the end of distance events, which meant more time for sprinting :).

But some years back when Stanford tried to host the world championships, the killing issue wasn’t nearly a track venue or seating as much as tax policy. The IAAF has a requirement that prize money be tax free, there was no US Federal tax exemption to be had, and the organizing committee didn’t have the money to cover the tax reimbursement, which killed the attempt.

Lacking a US Federal tax exemption for the visiting athletes, the whole issue of hosting the championships in the US is moot.