Athletics Athletics

Bird’s Nest fills as Beijing ticket sales surge

Sum crosses the finish line during the women's 800m final at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games/XINHUA-File
Sum crosses the finish line during the women’s 800m final at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games/XINHUA-File

PARIS, July 28- Athletics supremo Lamine Diack’s call for more to be done about promoting the upcoming Athletics World Championships in Beijing have been answered with a surge in ticket sales it was revealed on Monday.

The Bird’s Nest Stadium — which hosted the Opening and Closing Cremonies and the athletics competition at the 2008 Olympics — will on average have 80% of its 80,000 seats filled for the morning sessions and 90% for the evening events, when the finals generally take place.

With the championships not beginning till August 23rd, and finishing on the 30th, there is plenty of time for several sessions to be sold out.

The latest sales figures were delivered to Diack in person by Vice President of Chinese Olympic Committee Li Yingchuan and General Secretary of the Chinese Athletics Association and IAAF Council Member Du Zhaocai.

“I was delighted to hear that in the past couple of weeks, with the coordinated support of the Mayor of Beijing and many Chinese government ministries, a major push has been given to promotional activities and ticket sales,” said Diack, who will step down in August after 16 years in the hotseat.

“The latest ticket sales chart received by the IAAF now shows an average of more than 80% of capacity in the morning sessions and more than 90% of capacity for the evenings,” added the 82-year-old Senegalese former long jumper.

Diack, who will be succeeded by either Ukrainian pole vault legend Sergey Bubka or British middle distance icon Seb Coe in the election in Beijing on August 19, had said earlier this month he was concerned that some evening sessions ticket sales stood at just 50%, but he was now reassured that the biennial athletics spectacle would not be undermined as it had been in Moscow two years ago by TV images of rows of empty seats.

“I am now convinced that we will have a great atmosphere in the Bird’s Nest Stadium for the world’s top sporting event of 2015, and I thank our friends in China – including the Minister of the General Administration of Sport of China Liu Peng and the Mayor of Beijing Wang Anshun – for stepping up their efforts in the promotional campaign with such impressive results.

“We now have the possibility to have a sold-out stadium for evening sessions, which will be a fantastic achievement.”

Over recent weeks, promotional projects such as ‘Athletics on Campus’ and ‘Athletics in the Community’ have helped to increase locals awareness of the championships.