(Reuters) - United States athletics officials hailed the IAAF’s awarding of the 2021 world championships to Eugene, Oregon on Thursday as a “bold decision”, dismissing European grumblings as disappointment they had all experienced.
“They (the International Association of Athletics Federation) deserve a lot of credit for stepping up and making a bold decision to accept this bid outside the process,” TrackTown USA President Vin Lananna said during a conference call.
Eugene, which earlier this year lost out in a close vote to Doha 15-12 to stage the 2019 world championships, was surprisingly named as the 2021 host on Thursday following an IAAF council meeting in Beijing.
IAAF president Lamine Diack said the decision to skip the normal bidding process had been made after the sport’s world governing body had heard submissions from the governor of Oregon, the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) and television broadcaster NBC about the benefits of staging the championships in the United States.
Nicknamed TrackTown USA, Eugene has been the site of the past two U.S. Olympic trials and will host the 2016 competition to select the American team for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
While USA Track and Field and TrackTown USA celebrated on Thursday, European disappointment was quick to surface.
‘LACK OF PROCESS’
European Athletics president Svein Arne Hansen said he was “surprised by the complete lack of process” in the IAAF’s decision which sank Gothenburg’s bid for the 2021 championships.
“I would think the IAAF is fully aware of all of the elements that go into these types of decisions,” said Lananna.
“I think all of us here would be sympathetic to the disappointment of Gothenburg and I think we have all been through it.”
Following Eugene’s loss to Doha, Lananna explained that U.S. officials met with Diack in February and laid out a strategic plan.
Lananna said there was no presentation and that plans by the Eugene organizers had been submitted in a letter.
“Honestly it wasn’t until I arrived in Beijing and had a meeting with the president that I saw how engaged he was and how much really wanted this to happen,” said Lananna.
The IAAF noted it was not the first time the world championships had been awarded to a city without a full bidding process, the most recent case when the 2007 event was handed to Osaka, Japan.
“I think there is some precedent here thinking outside of the box, being innovative in thinking and knowing that cities put a lot work into these bid packages,” said USATF president Stephanie Hightower.
“I commend the IAAF for understanding that these are big presentations. There is a lot of money involved and they have a forwarding thinking approach that we have these championships planned out long-term.”
The world championships, currently held every two years, were first conducted in Helsinki in 1983. Beijing will host the championships this year with the next edition to be held in London in 2017.
Editing by Mark Lamport-Stokes