Technology at Khalifa Stadium jaw-dropping, says Coe

Zurich, Switzerland: IAAF President Sebastian Coe says he is more worried about the potentially searing heat at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics than the world championships in Doha, which begin next month in a temperature-controlled stadium.

All previous nine world championships held this century have begun in August, but the edition in the Qatari capital has been moved to September 27-October 6 because of concerns over the desert state's weather.

Marathons and race walks will even be held at midnight and traditional morning sessions have been scrapped.

Temperatures in Doha for the biennial track and field showpiece, being held for the first time in the Middle East, could easily hit 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) with accompanying high humidity.

But Qatari officials have turned to technology, installing cooling systems at the expensively refurbished Khalifa International Stadium to guarantee ambient trackside temperatures for athletes and even spectators.

Fears over intense heat and humidity in the Tokyo summer, however, have crystallised at several Olympic test events in recent weeks, with some competitors and spectators taken ill and other events curtailed.

Tokyo Games organisers have also moved up the starting times for some sports, including the marathon, over fears for athletes' wellbeing.

First-class facilities in Doha 

"Actually, peversely, the management of the heat is going to be a bigger one in Tokyo than it will be in Doha," Coe told AFP in an interview in Zurich.

"The technology at the Doha stadium is jaw-dropping. I've sat in the stadium, it's been 38-40 degrees C outside and it's 23.

"The technology for the athletes is going to be first class, the indoor warm-up facilities air-conditioned, the call areas also.

"Under our auspices (in Doha) we have the technology in the stadium where the athletes are probably going to be competing in perfect conditions."

Coe added: "It's interesting because Doha has given us the opportunity to do a lot of work behind the scenes around the management of heat in competitors."

Coe also played down any concerns over the potential threat of a boycott.

Since June 2017, Qatar has been isolated by a group of former allied neighbouring countries, including Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, who cut all ties with Doha, accusing it of supporting Iran and extremist groups.

Qatar refutes all allegations, but the World Athletics Championships will be a significant global sporting and political test for the crisis and those involved, coming three years before the football World Cup is held in Qatar.

Last year, Qatar was due to hold the football Gulf Cup but this was switched to Kuwait — the mediator in the crisis — after it was clear the boycotting countries would not attend.

"I have been a jobbing politician for many years and a government minister and I'm pretty comfortable that we'll have full teams there," said Coe, who was an elected Conservative member of parliament in Britain.

"There is a sensible, grown-up recognition in that region that you can have your political tensions but that sport is important."

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