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Olaf Brockmann: Despite The Outstanding Performance: It Remains A Peel Aftertaste

A lot went wrong at this World Championships in Eugene. The sleepy, boring US city of Oregon with just under 200,000 residents, which kept around 20,000 students alive during the semester, was inadequate for a World Cup of this magnitude due to the lack of infrastructure. The magnificent achievements - at the top of course, the three world records - could not change anything. Anything else is a wipe in the eye. It remains a pale aftertaste.

What disappointed me most was the fact that the new stadium Hayward Field, built on the same site of the tore down historic arena with its steep, tall ranks on the University of Oregon campus, during the ten-game tournament. Days when none of the sessions were sold out. Only 12,600 tickets were sold each. This is ridiculous or rather embarrassing for the acclaimed track town USA, the heart of US athletics. Nothing better shows the ever-sinking place value of the greatest Olympic sport in the United States. You can have a one-day meeting like the Diamond League one in Eugene, but only in front of a small audience. Athletics was not always present in "Track Town USA" outside of the stadium. An example: When ÖLV sports coordinator Hannes Gruber from ÖLV wanted to follow the marathon at breakfast, instead of the World Cup, a live broadcast of the Tour de France was broadcasted. In the evening in the sports bars, the World Cup was sometimes visible, but on most screens there were broadcasts of football or also football.

The reasons for the disappointing audience visit are obvious. The tickets were too expensive. Good seats cost between $400 and $600. For the final day, plenty of tickets between $75 and $1300 (VIP packages) were offered online on Saturday. Visited a family with two children to the World Cup and you afford tickets for $500, you had to flip over $2000, on top of that came the outrageously high prices in the stadium for food and drink. There was a lot of idle time at many evening sessions, often there were only two finals on the schedule. World Athletics is considering shortening the World Cup after existing contracts expire. But this also means that the athletes may have to look through their fingers again if the program is reduced or the participant fields are further restricted.

The low appreciation of the athletes was also evident at the awards. These were usually done before or after the evening sessions - in an almost empty stadium. Big winners like Sydney McLaughlin, who smashed her own world record over 400m hurdles, or 200m stars Noah Lyles or Shericka Jackson didn't get the stage they deserved.

The accommodations, as mentioned a few times, were also completely unacceptable. For the athletes, the spaces in the dorms were still partially acceptable, but for the supervisors by a long time not anymore. The missing air conditioners, the sometimes pathetic sanitary systems, which had to be partly shared by men and women or the poor supply of drinking water, showed a deep level. This is better at any 3rd grade international athletics meeting. The only advantage was that the athletes were in the stadium in a few minutes walk.

The media was also partially housed on the campus. Some colleagues were furious about the conditions in the "holes". For days on our walkway in Hamilton Hall shower and toilet not cleaned, the trash bin overflowed. I don’t mind just living in my travels. As a backpacker, which I am at nearly 70 years old, I am used to a lot. In Cuba I once had a room where bed bugs plagued me, in Kyoto I slept on a few square feet on the stone floor, in Honolulu I had a twelve bed room in a hostel at the foot of Machu Picc how I couldn't close my eye, there were huge spiders hindering sleep, in Calcutta I stayed in a cheap hotel, before the bodies were transported on ladder cars in the morning, before Perth I slept on the beach on Rottnest Island. So. I've been through a lot.

But what makes me gloomy after this World Cup is the outrageous price of this cheap accommodation at Hamilton Hall. $150 not including any service, breakfast you could eat only a few blocks away was of course not included. Would that still be acceptable if they charged 80 dollars for it or 100 dollars because of me...

At the European Championships in Munich in mid-August I booked a four-star hotel, which is 120 euros cheaper than the barge room in Eugene. Nevertheless, this European Championship could be more beautiful than this World Cup of Flair. Some top colleagues such as Manfred Steffny himself, president of the World Association of Sports Journalists, Gianni Merlo or Franco Fava (each of which missed a Athletics World Cup for the first time) had because of complicated visa regulations, the high prices (no media hotel under $200) and also waived out of Eugene because of the corona restrictions. On the other hand, they will be there in Munich. Everyone is looking forward to this.

It might be that in the Olympic stadium, even though it will probably not be sold out after the moderate German World Cup cut, a nicer athletics feast will be celebrated than in Eugene. At the World Championships in Stuttgart (1993) and Berlin (2009) as well as the European Championships in stuttgart (1986) and Munich (2002) the German audience showed how they can celebrate athletics. In Munich, unlike Eugene, there will be a flair in the city center.

Munich is back in the sporting center 50 years after the Olympics. This is also an emotional celebration for me. There I experienced my first Olympic Games as a young journalist in 1972. Five decades I've lasted Athletics won't let me go.
Text and image (at my workplace during the World Cup): Olaf Brockmann