IAAF's Coe expects 'very good' worlds, no concerns around hosts Qatar
DOHA – Qatari organizers and the ruling athletics body IAAF have brushed aside any concerns about human rights, climate or attendance levels on the eve of Friday's start of the world championships in Doha.
IAAF president Sebastian Coe said he expected "very, very good championships" and highlighted that 1,970 athletes from 208 countries and territories would be fighting for medals until October 6.
Among those sending athletes are the four countries that have imposed a boycott on Qatar since 2017: Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Yemen and the United Arab Emirates.
"We have all teams here, which is a good indication of how sports can reach out," Coe told reporters.
Organizing committee vice president Dahlan Al Hamad said: "We don't stop anyone at our door step. We don't mix sports with politics."
Dahlan also dismissed concerns about very sluggish ticket sales, insisting sales were going well and hoping for a full house at Khalifa International Stadium on Friday.
"We are happy with ticket sales and the engagement in the country which is bigger than at any sports event. The people of Qatar are excited," he said.
Al Hamad and Coe spoke of the legacy the first worlds in the Middle East would leave and said that measures have been taken to counter the intense heat. Coe also stressed that workers rights in the country have improved despite severe criticism from NGOs.
"I don't see organizations such as Amnesty International or Labour International as competitors to what we are doing," Coe said.
"Sport is a good opportunity to showcase and challenge some of those issues. I encourage them, we can be quite a powerful alliance," Coe said.dpa