Kevin Mayer brands Doha World Championships a 'disaster' over heat and low attendances

World champion decathlete was stinging in his criticism of hosting the event in Qatar

Christian Coleman, third right, wins the men's 100m gold medal at the World Athletics Championships, although there were many empty seats inside the stadium. AP Photo
Christian Coleman, third right, wins the men's 100m gold medal at the World Athletics Championships, although there were many empty seats inside the stadium. AP Photo

World champion decathlete Kevin Mayer has said passion alone is the reason he has not boycotted the World Championships in Doha as heat-related withdrawals and poor attendances continue to blight the biggest event in athletics.

A crowd of 13,288 - although 1,484 were guests - watched the opening session on Friday night while it appeared only slightly more were in the stadium on Saturday evening. The venue's capacity is 40,000 but it has been reduced for the athletics.

It came after 28 runners dropped out of the women's marathon, which started on Friday night because of the 33C temperatures.

It has brought an angry response from French world-record holder Mayer who criticised the decision to hold the Championships in Qatar.

"We can all see it's a disaster, there is no one in the stands, and the heat has not been adapted at all," Mayer told L'Equipe. "There have already been nearly 30 withdrawals in the women's marathon. It's sad.

"We have to leave reason aside and more concentrate on the passion, because if not I would have boycotted these Championships.

"We haven't really prioritised athletes when organising the Championships here. It makes it difficult."

The USA's Christian Coleman won the 100m ahead of defending champion Justin Gatlin and Canada's Andre De Grasse on Saturday night.

The crowd for the showpiece event was clearly less than those who watched the 10,000m final around an hour earlier.

"I was just trying to focus on winning the gold medal," Coleman said. "It doesn't matter how many people are in the stands. The gold medal means the same whether there's one person or 100,000 people."

Gatlin, who won gold in London two years ago, added: "I don't do a head count going out but when they announced our names you still hear the roar.

"It doesn't matter if there's 100 people or 100,000, we want to put on a great show and I think we did that."

Published: September 29, 2019 12:12 PM

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