By Duncan Mackay
British Sports Internet Writer of the Year

May 1 - Zurich were today awarded the 2014 European Athletics Championships, which will be only the second occasion that Switzerland has hosted the event.

The European Athletics Council made the unanimous decision during its meeting at the Hotel La Barcarolle on the banks of Lake Geneva in Prangins in Switzerland.

The event will be held at the new CHF 120 million (£73 million/$111 million) Letzigrund Stadium, which was a host city for the 2008 European football championships and stages the Weltklasse Zürich each year, and has a capacity of 30,000.

Zurich was the only bidder and will follow Bern, who hosted the fifth European Championships in 1954, when the winners included Britain's Roger Bannister, who claimed a gold medal in the 1500 metres, and Czechoslovakia's Emil Zatopek, who won the 10,000m.

European Athletics President Hansjörg Wirz, who is Swiss, said: "We are very pleased to confirm that Zurich will be the hosts of the European Athletics Championships in 2014.

"Athletics is a hugely popular sport in Switzerland and we have been assured today that we can look forward to a fantastic event."

Patrick Magyar, chief executive of the newly incorporated Leichtathletik EM 2014 AG that will oversee the Championships and Weltklasse Zurich meeting director, said: "Together with Athletissima Lausanne, we will be able to benefit from a thorough know-how in the realisation of international meetings."

Weltklasse Zürich and Athletissima Lausanne are two stops on the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Diamond League circuit.

Maygar said: "Even though one-day events cannot be compared with the dimension of championships, we trust that our experience will be a valuable asset.

"And we know that the commitment and support of the Swiss athletics fans will help tremendously."

Zurich Canton Government Council President Dr. Hans Hollenstein said: "Today's announcement is wonderful news.

"In Zurich, we attach great importance to sport.

"Being able to showcase athletics at such a high level provides us with the opportunity to highlight the importance of sport as such.

"The European Athletics Championships are an excellent platform that will reach a broad audience, and particularly young people."

Zurich City Councillor Gerold Lauber said: "Zurich's new Letzigrund Stadium represents a state-of-the-art championship venue.

"In addition, our city offers all necessary infrastructures for the event. We will not have to build any new facilities.

"This context - and the fact that athletics rates very high in our city - have certainly contributed to European Athletics' decision."

Swiss Athletics President Hansruedi Müller said: "Today's decision will boost the motivation of the young talents enrolled in the 'Swiss Starters 2014' programme and the entire athletics community in Switzerland."

Swiss Athletics launched in 2008 "Swiss Starters 2014", with the aim of sending a team of 30 athletes to represent Switzerland at the 2014 Championships, which are scheduled for August.

The 2010 European Athletics Championships will take place in Barcelona through 26 July to 1 August.

The controversial 2012 Championships are scheduled for Helsinki, Finland, through 27 June to 1 July, just a month before the opening ceremony of the London Olympics.

It will mark the start of a new schedule which will see the European Championships held every other year rather than every fourth year as is currently the case.

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