IAAF Chooses Berlin for World Championships in 2009

“The World Championships in Athletics 2009 will be held in Berlin.” A few minutes past 6 pm the President of the International Athletics Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF), Lamine Diack, announced the decision in Helsinki. The Berlin Delegation, led by the minister of interior Otto Schily and Berlin’s governing mayor Klaus Wowereit started cheering. Valencia and Split were competitors, but Berlin has had the strongest bid and additionally showed the by far best presentation before the decision. The provisional dates for the 12th World Championships in Athletics are 15th to 23rd August 2009 in Berlin’s new Olympic Stadium. “I am very happy and excited about this decision by the IAAF since Berlin is my hometown. I really hope to be able to see the championships,” Uta said after the decision.

A clear majority of the 26 Council members were voting in the first ballot for Berlin. Unofficially it was said that there were 24 votes for Berlin, but officially the IAAF did not tell any number. “We are very proud und happy that we got the WCA. It is an honor for the city of Berlin, and I am sure we will have a great atmosphere,” announced governing mayor Klaus Wowereit, while the minister of interior Otto Schily said: “This is a big success for Germany.”

Concerning world-wide importance the sport spectacle which is third only to Olympic Games and World Championships in football. For Berlin the rating of the World Championships in Athletics will be even higher than for the Football World Cup. 2006 there will be five WC games played in Berlin. But of course it will known as the Championships in Germany. That is different with the WCA because for nine days Berlin will be in the world-wide focus—‘A priceless advertising.’

Berlin finally achieved its goal in the third approach. 1989 the city had failed with the application for the WCA 1991 because of Tokyo. Two and a half years ago Berlin applied and was the favorite before the poll for the WCA 2005. But surprisingly Helsinki came out as a winner in April 2002.

Now however Helsinki was a good omen for the citizens of Berlin. No other candidate was so well represented in Finland. Minister of the Interior Schily was the only representative of a federal state government of the three candidates. The governing mayor Klaus Wowereit, the Senator Klaus Böger, the designated president of Berlin’s organizing committee Werner Gegenbauer, the president of the German Athletics Federation (DLV) Clemens Prokop as well as the Olympic Champion Heike Drechsler participated in the presentation.

And as a surprise guest Frank Fredericks appeared in Helsinki. That was a clever move, because the 37 year old is very popular in IAAF circles. He belongs to the athlete commission of the Federation and is an IOC member. The sprinter from Namibia, who terminated his long career this year additionally has close connections to Berlin. “Berlin had a strong application, therefore I gladly supported it,” Fredericks said.

Berlin had made the first presentation before the poll, followed by Valencia and Split. During the 30 minute long representation for the IAAF Council in Helsinki Berlin showed the strongest points of the bid: the recently reconstructed Olympic Stadium, the long athletics tradition in Berlin as well as the very good infrastructure. In addition the German capital was introduced as an international metropolis. And at the end the Council members received small Berlin Bears. The presentation was presented by Canadian Charmaine Crooks, a former 800 meter runner, who at the 1996 Olympics carried the Canadian flag. Crooks is a well-known face for the IAAF members as she annually presents the World Athletics Final in Monte Carlo, the headquarter city of the IAAF.

But also the assignment of the governing mayor Klaus Wowereit and the long lasting president of chamber of industry and commerce, Werner Gegenbauer, in the last years had a positive influence on the decision. The two did not omit an opportunity to convince the IAAF of the large interest of Berlin. The fact that the allegedly sharpest rival, Valencia, not even came with the governing mayor to Helsinki had already shown how Spain estimated their chances against Berlin.