By Tom Degun in Monte Carlo

Birds_Nest_with_waterNovember 20 - Beijing has been selected to host the 2015 World Championships, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Council announced here today.

Beijing were  the only bidders for the prestigious Championships, which are the world's third largest sporting event behind the Olympic Games and the FIFA World Cup, after UK Athletics abandoned their campaign to stage the competition in London earlier this month due to uncertainty over the future of the Olympic Stadium.

London's withdrawal signalled the third time in ten years that a bid to bring the event to Britain has been thwarted although the city is set to make a bid for the 2017 Championships, with that announcement set to be made by the IAAF in November next year.

The selection of the Chinese capital to host the 15th edition of the Championships will see athletics come back to the iconic Bird's Nest Stadium, the centerpiece of the 2008 Olympic Games.

The $423 million (£281 million) 80,000-seat stadium - officially called the Beijing National Stadium - is the largest steel structure in the world and was designed by the Swiss architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron.

Among the winners there during the Olympics were Usain Bolt, who broke the world records in the 100 and 200 metres, and Britain's Christine Ohuruogu (pictured), who won the 400m.


It has hardly been used since the Olympics - hosting only two events, the 2009 Supercoppa Italiana, the traditional curtain raiser to the Italian football league season, and the opera Turandot - but still manages to attract up to 30,000 visitors a day who want look around the awe-inspiring venue.

IAAF President Lamine Diack said: "To help build up our sport and the culture of athletics in a country of 1.6 billion inhabitants is a great opportunity.

"As we sometimes say, China is not a country, it's a continent.

"So this is a fantastic opportunity for our sport and for the sport in China.

"Beijing hosted a very successful World Junior Championships for us in 2006 and then of course a very memorable Olympic Games in 2008.

"So this provides a great opportunity to showcase the Championships in the best possible light in China."

Beijing, whose metropolitan area is home to nearly 17 million, will become the fouth Asian city to host the IAAF World Championships.

Tokyo hosted the event in 1991 and Osaka in 2007 while Daegu in South Korea is due to stage the 2011 event.

Liu Jingmin, the Vice Mayor of Beijing, added: "This is the most important sporting event for China since the 2008 Olympic Games.

"We thank you for your trust. We will deliver a high standard event in Beijing which will open a new chapter in Championships' standards."

Beijing's successful bid marks the latest phase of China's commitment to add to and enhance its athletics legacy.

In the 1980s, the Chinese Government stressed that "Athletics was the fundamental sport with great influence" and that it was "necessary to improve [the national] athletics programme", setting the stage for the sport's significant growth and visibility in the country.

Further encouraging its athletics community, in 2002 the General Administration of Sport of China (GASC) positioned athletics as a "focus sport".

In 2006, Beijing hosted the IAAF World Junior Championships where athletes from nearly 180 nations took part and then a staged stunning 2008 Olympics and Paralympics two years ago which were hailed as a monumental success.

The city has also hosted numerous IAAF Race Walking events, including the 2010 Race Walking Challenge Final, and the Beijing International Marathon, an IAAF Gold Label Road Race, which this year celebrated its 30th running.

"We believe that our bid to host the highest profile athletics competition in the world will serve to further promote the development of athletic sports across the world," said Duan Shijie, chairman of the Chinese Athletic Association.

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