World Athletics Championships off to a wet start in Budapest
Updated 21:14, 19-Aug-2023
Peter Oliver in Budapest
Heavy rains delayed the start of the athletics. /Dylan Martinez/Reuters
Heavy rains delayed the start of the athletics. /Dylan Martinez/Reuters

Heavy rains delayed the start of the athletics. /Dylan Martinez/Reuters

It's one of the biggest shows in the sporting calendar - the World Athletics Championships - but this year's event got off to a watery start in Budapest as heavy rains forced officials to delay the first events. Team China has sent 41 athletes to compete including defending world men's long-jump champion Wang Jianan and women's discus gold medalist Feng Bin. 

But the schedule has already been pushed back. A thunderstorm delayed the start of the men's 20-kilometer race walk, the Championships' first event, by two hours on Saturday.

Athletes were minutes from starting when officials announced the delay. The start of the morning session inside the stadium, which was scheduled to start with the men's shot put qualifying, was also pushed back by an hour due to the adverse weather.

Hopefully the timing of the rest of the days events - including the men's shot put, women's 10,000 meters and the mixed 4x400 relay - won't experience a knock on effect, with hosts Hungary crossing their fingers for a smooth event. 

They've never won a World Championships gold medal, but they have built a fantastic venue in which to showcase the world's best.


What is now the National Athletics Center started out four years ago as a brown field site on the banks of the Danube. It's now the jewel in the crown of a major riverside revitalization.

Executive Director of Sport at Local Organizing Committee, Marton Gyulai told CGTN when it comes to hosing big events in athletics, they've done the rest, now it's time for the big one.

"There's nothing else left in the World Athletics calendar series of events that Hungary has not done. And this is not going back hundreds of years, just going back 25 years. So we are incredibly proud that over 125 year history of Hungarian athletics finally, we managed to put the jewel of the crown on top of the sport itself," he said. 

"But I don't need to convince anybody that sports is still one of the best marketing tools there is in the world. I mean, nothing else. Can you do that? Over 1 billion people will watch for over ten days."

Earlier this year the Australian state of Victoria pulled out of hosting the 2026 Commonwealth Games citing costs that could not be justified. The organizing committee for this World Athletics wouldn't be drawn on how much these championships had cost, but Gyulai said its legacy had been at the center of planning.

"The stadium will not stay the same way as it looks now," he said, explaining that the 30,000 capacity seating would be downscaled to 15,000 after the competition. 

The stadium's top tier will also be transformed into a public park lined with cafes for the public. 

"You can jog around, you can bring your your kids, even your dog out there for a walk. And it's free of charge on a beautiful Danube riverbank environment," Gyulai added.

The world Championships get underway on Saturday, 19 August and will run through until 27 August. More than 2,000 athletes from over 200 countries will be going for gold.

World Athletics Championships off to a wet start in Budapest

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Source(s): Reuters

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