Monaco: Beijing will host the 2015 world championships, the IAAF decided on Saturday, returning international athletics to the Bird’s Nest stadium Usain Bolt made famous with his lightning speed at the 2008 Olympics.
The Chinese capital was the sole bidder after London dropped out over uncertainty surrounding the future of the 2012 Olympic main stadium.
“2015 will be the most important sporting event (in China) after the 2008 Olympic Games,” Beijing vice-mayor and bid committee head Liu Jingmin said.
“It will be very significant in the promotion of sport in China,” Liu added in an interview with Reuters.
IAAF president Lamine Diack called the decision a great opportunity “to help build up our sport and the culture of athletics in a country of 1.6 billion.”
He added: “As we sometimes say, China is not a country, it’s a continent. So this is a fantastic opportunity.”
The world championships are held every two years. Beijing has proposed the week of Aug.29 to Sept.6 for the 2015 event to be staged in the 80,000-seat national stadium where Jamaica’s Bolt stunned the world in the 2008 Olympics.
“We look forward to welcoming him back,” Liu said, recalling how an overflowing Bird’s Nest crowd had sung happy birthday to Bolt in 2008.
The city also plans to organise international athletics meetings in Beijing ahead of the championships. Currently, Shanghai is the only Chinese city with a top-level Diamond League meeting.
Diack told Reuters he would support adding Beijing to the global circuit. Britain, the United States and Switzerland already have two Diamond League meetings in their countries.
The 2011 world championships will be in Daegu, South Korea. Moscow will host the 2013 event.