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A sporting lesson...

Comment
Gordon Boyle


I’ve been watching two of the best sporting events taking place now, the Rugby World Cup taking place in Japan and the IAAF World Athletics Championships taking place in Qatar.

The sportsmen and women taking part have worked so hard, some of them for years, to be ready to take part.

In Japan packed stadiums greet the teams as they run on to the field to take part in each game.

The atmosphere is electric not just at the start of the game but all the way through with many of the final results undecided until the last few minutes of the game.

In contrast in Qatar the athletes take part in their events in front of a stadium that has a few thousand spectators.

The Al Khalifa stadium can hold close to 50,000 and during the exciting final of the women’s 100m race there were around 3,000 spectators in the stadium.

I’ve never had the privilege of reaching such a high level of sporting excellence as the stars taking part in the games and events in Japan and Qatar, but I am certain part of the experience is performing in front of a packed stadium with fans full of expectation. This buzz is all part of the event and without it the sports stars miss out as do the TV audiences around the world.

I do not want to delve into the politics and decision making as to why certain countries are chosen to hold such superb sporting events, but you must question the decision to have an event such as the IAAF World Athletics Championships in a country such as Qatar.

It is shocking when the women’s marathon had to take place at midnight due to the heat and humidity and even holding the race at this time of day just under half of the participants could not finish the race. Comments from those who managed to finish described the race as hell.

I can understand the desire to hold leading sporting events in countries outside what we call the developed world. One of the best football World Cup events was the 2010 championship in South Africa.

Prior to the event there were concerns about crime especially and it was a delight to see the whole championship take place with only some minor criminal offences.

I’m not sure what will happen after the IAAF World Athletics Championships in Qatar, but I hope the head of international athletics Sebastian Coe and his team have a long hard look at the outcome of their decision to hold the championships in Qatar.

They need to face up to their brutal reality and do what must be done in order not to make such a mistake again in the future.

For better or worse sport today is no longer what it used to be in the past and today money is a big driver.

Do not get me wrong, money in many cases has supported sports stars reach new heights of physical achievement.

We have around the world superb stadiums that would not be there if sport was not well funded.

Lesson learned I hope.

Gordon is the former president and chief executive of BMMI. He can be reached at gordonboyle@hotmail.com

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