Birmingham to welcome a new generation, says Coe
Birmingham will welcome a new generation of athletics fans at the IAAF World Indoor Championships with over half of spectators watching the sport live for the first time, IAAF President Seb Coe said.
Speaking on Thursday’s opening day of the event, the former middle-distance star said research had shown that 60% of the spectators coming to Arena Birmingham have never been to international athletics before.
“We are in a city that really does get athletics. We are delighted to be here,” Coe said. “The UK has been a trusted and regular host to our events. We had an epic world (outdoor) championships in London only a few months ago. That (the 60% figure) is largely inspired by what happened in London.
”Birmingham has hosted some of the best events we have had. Most of us remember very fondly the 2003 world indoor championships here and we have had world half marathon championships, the Diamond League and indoor tour. So we are in very safe hands.”
Councillor Ian Ward, Leader of Birmingham City Council and Chair of the Executive Steering Group, told a news conference for the international media that the city had a reputation for hosting major events which was “second to none”.
“Arena Birmingham has benefited from a £26 million refurbishment since 2003,” Ward said. “We now have even better facilities for athletes, spectators and the media. The arena was purpose-built for indoor athletics. So I have the opinion that we have the best indoor venue for athletics for anywhere in the world. We hope to demonstrate that this weekend.”
Coe said spectators in Arena Birmingham would experience several new innovations in the presentation of the sport.
“The objective is to try to make the sport more accessible and easier to understand,” Coe said. “That will be done around the approach to social media and TV presentation in the stadium.
“You have an inbuilt intimacy indoors. We will be across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and we have puzzles and challenges – all the things that re-engage our sport, particularly with young people. We will have live polling on smart phones and a live social wall where spectators will be able to post their messages straight on to the big screen.”