Athletics championships promises Budapest boost, insist organizers

The World Athletics Championships get underway in Budapest on Saturday, with Hungarian organizers insisting the event will be a boon to the country.

That's in contrast to the growing view that host cities of major events like The Olympics end up out of pocket for years, with precious little to show in the way of a legacy for their vast investment.

Just last month, Australia's state of Victoria abandoned plans to host athletics' 2026 Commonwealth Games due to projected cost overruns, placing the future of the quadrennial multi-sport event in doubt.

The new Budapest National Athletics Center. /Attila Kisbenedek/CFP
The new Budapest National Athletics Center. /Attila Kisbenedek/CFP

The new Budapest National Athletics Center. /Attila Kisbenedek/CFP

But Márton Gyulai, Hungary's Executive Director of Sport at World Athletics Championships Local Organising Committee, told CGTN the nine-day World Athletics Championships would bring tangible benefits to Budapest.

He insisted: "We are incredibly proud that after a 125-year history Hungarian athletics have finally managed to (host) the jewel of the crown on top of the sport."

Gyulai called sport "one of the best marketing tools there is in the world," adding "Where else can you do that? Over 1 billion people will watch for over 10 days."


Forty years after its first edition, the event will see more than 2,000 athletes from 202 countries taking part, mainly inside the purpose-built 30,000-capacity Budapest National Athletics Center. 

Poor crowds and low TV audiences undermined the impact of the last championships held in the United States 12 months ago. However, World Athletics says ticket sales have been "strong" for this iteration.

Gyulai said tickets had already sold out for some events, with fans attending from over 100 nations.

He said: "This is the only athletics stadium in the whole of Hungary…..this is the home of Hungarian athletics. And if you've had a federation for 125 years with Olympic champions and world indoor champions you would want a training ground and somewhere to showcase your sport to future parents and young athletes."


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Launched initially as a four-yearly event at great pains not to undermine the Olympics, the Championships switched to a biennial format in 1993 and, due to COVID, takes place for a second consecutive year following the 2022 event in Eugene in the United States.

Hungary itself has a woeful world championship record, having never won a gold medal. It has claimed seven silver and seven bronze – half of them coming in the hammer throw.

"The hammer throw is the most typical Hungarian event….and our best hope to get the medal is in the cage just behind me on the evening of August 20," said Gyulai.

Several current world record holders will be competing between August 19-27, with the men's 200 meter sprint and women's 1500 meter event seen as among the most likely to see new sporting landmarks achieved.

Athletics championships promises Budapest boost, insist organizers

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Interview conducted by Peter Oliver

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