Steven Gardiner

The first track championships in the Middle East

The first track championships in the Middle East

DOHA, Qatar — Like the sun rising in the east, some things are entirely predictable. 

1. Some number of athletes, particularly those from Europe, bitching about conditions at a world track and field championships. Observation: ’It’s hot.’ (Captains of the obvious!) Followed by hyperbole: a ‘disaster.’ 

2. The see-saw relationship with the press and track and field’s governing body. A few days into a championship, the press writes sky-is-falling stories. (Empty seats! It’s hot! A catastrophe!) The authorities naturally feel compelled to push back, IAAF president Seb Coe telling Associated Press in a story posted Wednesday that the complainers need to move along

“Can I just be a bit blunt about this?” Coe, elected here to a second four-year term as head of track and field’s world governing body, asked rhetorically. “The athletes talking about externalities are probably not the ones who are going to be walking home with medals from here. I have much, much bigger commitments and visions for our sport than to turn and head for home because we take an event into an area that poses problems.”

These 2019 IAAF world championships, now heading into the final weekend, seem destined to mark one of the most complex — and yet one of the most intriguing — legacies of any major championship from these first years of the 21st century.