Newspaper article International New York Times

Eugene, Ore., Awarded World Track Championships without Bidding

Newspaper article International New York Times

Eugene, Ore., Awarded World Track Championships without Bidding

Article excerpt

In a surprise move, the International Association of Athletics Federations awarded the event to Eugene, a track and field hotbed, without a formal bid.

There was surprise in multiple time zones when Eugene, Ore., became the first city in the United States to secure the world outdoor track and field championships. It will stage them in 2021 without the usual constraint of having had to win a formal bidding process.

In California, Ashton Eaton, the reigning Olympic decathlon champion from Oregon who had worked with the Eugene team on a failed earlier bid, woke up Thursday, thumbed through his phone and received the news through Twitter.

"I was like, 'Huh? Cool!"' Eaton said.

In Sweden, Bjorn Eriksson, the president of the Swedish Athletic Association, had a much less positive reaction.

"I am 100 percent confused and very, very disturbed," said Eriksson, whose country had been planning to bid for the 2021 championships to be held in Goteborg as part of the city's celebration of its 400th anniversary.

But in Beijing, the prevailing mood was satisfaction, after the council of the International Association of Athletics Federations unexpectedly pre-empted the customary process and voted overwhelmingly in favor of Eugene.

"We had to make a strategic decision, and to go to the United States is very important for us," Lamine Diack, the president of the I.A.A.F., said in a telephone interview from Beijing. "I hope the Americans are going to discover that track and field is not just the Olympic trials and the Olympic Games."

Diack, an 81-year-old from Senegal, has served as I.A.A.F. president since 1999. He will not stand for re-election later this year and had repeatedly expressed a desire to see the world championships awarded to the United States.

"I think President Diack really wanted this to happen and pushed very hard for it," said Vin Lananna, the TrackTown USA president who was a central figure for the Eugene team.

Eugene initially bid for the 2019 world championships but was beaten in November by Doha, Qatar, in a 15-12 vote by the I. …

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