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Organizers Vow to Host Successful World Athletics Championships in Daegu
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Organizers of this year's world athletics championships in the South Korean city of Daegu said on Tuesday their preparations have gone smoothly so far, with exactly 200 days left until the competition.


The World Championships in Athletics, organized by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), will take place in Daegu, about 300 kilometers southeast of Seoul, from Aug. 27 to Sept. 4. It is only the third Asian host, after Tokyo in 1991 and Osaka in 2007, of the world championships, which began in 1983.


At a press conference held here, Cho Hae-nyoung, president of the organizing committee, said most of the facilities necessary for a successful competition are in place, including new lighting and tracks for the Daegu Stadium, plus sound systems and the main electronic scoreboard.


"With 200 days to go, all of our hardware and software have been undergoing meticulous preparations," Cho said. "The IAAF has been giving us high praise, beyond some diplomatic compliments."


He said the international athletics governing body had previously doubted Daegu's ability to run a successful world championships, but, "They now have full trust in us."


"But we don't want to keep patting ourselves on our back and get too confident," Cho added. "We will guard against any complacency and continue to prepare as perfectly as we can."


According to the committee, the athletes' village, which will house about 3,500 athletes and officials, is about 92 percent complete and is scheduled to open a week before the championships.


The organizers have also trained 138 referees and 6,133 volunteers.


The committee's data showed Tuesday that about 168,000 tickets have been sold so far for the competition, more than one-third of the 460,000 tickets that would make up a full house for the entire tournament.


"Six months before the 2007 championships in Osaka, Japan, they hadn't sold 10 percent of the tickets," Cho gushed. "I am really convinced we will have sellout crowds this year."


A major concern for the organizers is the level of South Korean competition in track and field. In the world championships' history, South Korea is the only host country that has never won a medal in those events.


South Korea acquitted itself well in athletics at the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games, winning four gold medals and 10 medals overall. Cho said that performance has driven up fans' interest and the world might be in for a surprise in Daegu.


"We will certainly have budding stars emerging from the athletics, such as Park Tae-hwan (an Olympic gold medalist in swimming) and Mo Tae-bum (an Olympic speed skating champion)," Cho said. "I'd like to ask everyone to be fully behind our championships and support the athletes."


Source: Yonhap News (Feb. 8, 2011)

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