Turkish officials allay fears over World Indoor Championships venue
Thursday, 05 January 2012
January 5 - Doubts have been raised over whether the venue to be used for the World Indoor Athletics Championships in Istanbul in March will be ready in time.
The event, which is due to take place between March 9 and 11 and has already attracted entries from a record 170 countries, is seen as an ideal opportunity to showcase the Turkish city's bid to host the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics.
But work on the Ataköy Athletics Hall is behind schedule and a test event scheduled for last month had to be cancelled.
Can Korkmazoğlu, the general coordinatior of the Championships, though, insisted that there was no panic.
"Actually, we never worried the hall would not be ready, we have only been forced to cancel the races we promised to the International Associations of Athletics Federations (IAAF)," he told Hürriyet Daily News.
"Apart from that, we had events with two small-scale organisations scheduled that we had to cancel, but now we are running smoothly.
"We will begin operations inside the hall with the Turkish Indoor Athletics Championships January 27 to 29."
Istanbul had been awarded the Championships by the IAAF in 2007.
The event was originally scheduled to be held at the Sinan Erdem Dome in the Ataköy district of Istanbul, but after the decision to use the Sinan Erdem Dome as the main court for the World Basketball Championship in 2010, it was decided to buld another hall next door to stage the World Indoor Championships.
Korkmazoğlu blamed the IAAF for the delays, claiming that it was nothing to do with financial difficulties in Istanbul.
"There were no such problems, and we were helped by the state at every stage," he said.
"We were just forced to start later than planned because the project changed several times according to IAAF demands."
Korkmazoğlu is confident that the event will prove to be an outstanding success, with nearly half of the 15,000 tickets available sold already.
"As of last week, 47 per cent of the total tickets were sold out, with the main focus being on Saturday evening and Sunday," he said.
"This was expected as it is when most of the finals are scheduled for."