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Kenya and specifically Nairobi have confirmed that a bid committee will apply to host the 2025 World Athletics Championships. Is it time that the heartbeat of African running hosts the global event?
Should they win the right to host, it will mark the first time an African nation will have hosted the world championships.
In a demonstration of their ability to host international meets, Nairobi has recently put on the World U18 and World U20 championships.
There are other would-be host cities in the running including Tokyo, which very successfully hosted the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
“We formally confirmed our bid to host the global championships on Friday, October 1 which was the deadline set by World Athletics,” Athletics Kenya chief Jackson Tuwei told AFP.
“We organised two very successful world junior championships at the Kasarani stadium in 2017 and in August 2021, where a number of world records and personal bests were realised,” he said.
It could be argued that there is no more apt location in the world to host a global running competition than Kenya. the Rift Valley is the home of many of the greatest middle and long-distance runners of all time. For example, both marathon world record holders Eliud Kipchoge and Brigid Kosgei are Kenyan as is Olympic gold medallists Kipchoge and Peres Jepchirchir.
Although Tokyo would likely run a seamless meet, Nairobi, Kenya would be the nostalgic favourite.
Certainly, World Athletics does not want to make the same mistake as the International Olympic Committee did when it chose Atlanta over Athens for the 1996 Olympics. Athens was the sentimental favourite. Atlanta put on a successful event – transportation woes and bombs aside – but the Olympics originated from Greece; it was a poetic injustice. It would have been the anniversary of the first modern Olympics from 1896.
Tokyo would be financially a better venue, but for the love of the sport – which could be argued that favour will follow – Nairobi would be the right choice.
Certainly, the corruption that took place for Doha to host the world championships did little for the sport as the country is inhospitably hot. Money isn’t everything.
The 2022 World Athletics Championships will be taking place in Eugene, Oregon at the new and slick Hayward Field. World Athletics got this one right. The US needs to fall in love with athletics. Although one major meet may not do it, certainly the hosts with Nike next door in Beaverton and the running environment that is the state of Oregon is the right choice. In terms of time zones for television and streaming and sheer consumerism, there are a billion people in the Americas within three times zones.
According to World Athletics, there are more than 214 member nations and 3.5 million athletes. Established in 1912, World
Athletics manages a sport that is the most-watched sport during the Olympic Games.
“Our mission is to grow the sport of athletics and make it relevant in people’s lives and in the lives of their communities.”
Athletics is the most accessible sport. It needs promotion, money does not directly engender an appreciation for a sport.