Istanbul races with time for major athletics event

Istanbul races with time for major athletics event

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Istanbul races with time for major athletics event

The work at the Ataköy Hall are yet to be finished, raising concerns as to whether it will be ready for the World Indoor Championships. Apparently, fans were not worried, however, since almost half of the tickets are already sold. DAILY NEWS photos, Emrah GÜREL

The World Indoor Athletics Championships is the biggest sports event Turkey is set to host in the first months of the New Year, but questions remain as to whether all will be ready for the games.

Istanbul will welcome the world’s leading athletes during the three-day championships from March 9 to 11; however, build-up to the competition has been overshadowed by delays to construction of the arena. The event was initially scheduled to be held at the Sinan Erdem Dome in the Ataköy district of Istanbul, but after the decision to use the Sinan Erdem Dome as the main court for the World Basketball Championship in 2010, the build of a second sports hall to house the athletics was initiated next door.

While work is ongoing at the Ataköy Athletics Hall, the organization committee remain convinced everything will be ready by the time the event start. Even though ongoing construction work has already forced them to cancel test races scheduled for December.

“Actually, we never worried the hall would not be ready, we have only been forced to cancel the races we promised to the International Associations of Athletics Federations (IAAF),” General Coordinator Can Korkmazoğlu said to Hürriyet Daily News. “Apart from that, we had events with two small-scale organizations scheduled that we had to cancel, but now we are running smoothly. We will begin operations inside the hall with the Turkish Indoor Athletics Championships Jan. 27 to 29.”

Korkmazoğlu rejected the idea these delays were stemming from financial or bureaucratic problems.
“There were no such problems, and we were helped by the state at every stage,” he said. “We were just forced to start later than planned because the project changed several times according to IAAF demands.”

Tickets on sale

Although the hall is yet to be finished, tickets for the events are already available and on sale via Biletix. The tickets are priced at 60 Turkish liras for three days and interest is very “solid,” he said.
“There are five sessions over three days: morning and evening sessions on Friday and Saturday and the afternoon session on Sunday. We have 5040 seats for each of them,” he said.

“As of last week, 47 percent of the total tickets were sold out, with the main focus being on Saturday evening and Sunday. This was expected as it is when most of the finals are scheduled for. The 60-meter and 60-meter hurdles finals and semifinals, both in men’s and women’s competition, will also be held on those days, which are likely to be another reason for their popularity.”