‘Just like the organisers, every venue is ready for the start of the Budapest World Athletics Championships on Saturday,’ State Secretary for Sports and Government Commissioner of the event Ádám Schmidt proclaimed on Friday, just 24 hours before the grand opening, at a press conference held at the National Athletics Centre.
The State Secretary also emphasised that the organisers have worked hard to make the events of the nine days of the championships become lasting experiences for all. That is why during the planning stages novel ideas were introduced, including the establishment of fan zones.
Ádám Schmidt also called attention to the championships’ mascot, Youhuu the Hungarian racka sheep, a lovable and entertaining character. He also mentioned that, for the first time in the 40-year history of the world championships, short films about the athletes will be shown to the audience before certain events. Live music will be played between the programmes, and a DJ will be wandering between the rows in the stands, also playing music. At the National Athletics Centre, well-known television commentators István B. Hajdú and Gábor Méhes will serve as the announcers and provide information to the audience.
The championships will be unique also in that
the medal ceremonies will take place outside the stadium, in the sports park at the Medal Plaza,
where all-day programmes and live concerts will be entertaining the spectators.
One of the hosts, András Petúr, mentioned that the medal ceremonies will be preceded by live music and dance performances. The Medal Plaza will be open between the morning and evening sessions, with entertainment programmes lasting until midnight. Additionally, various other activities await those interested in the sports park, including the opportunity to try out the fundamental athletics disciplines.
Balázs Németh, CEO of Budapest 2023, the non-profit company in charge of organising the event, admitted that being part of the arrangement of the championships has been an incredible experience, allowing them to showcase to one billion people that Hungary is a great place and Budapest is capable of hosting such an event.
International athletics leaders, including WA President Sebastian Coe, have high hopes for a successful competition in every aspect, which might not have been the case in the last two world championships. In 2019 in Doha, there were many empty seats even during the evening sessions; and last year in Eugene, along with sparse crowds, the low viewership ratings also did not bring any joy to the World Athletics (WA) federation. Speaking in an interview with public television channel M1 on Thursday, the British sports executive, who was re-elected almost unanimously in the Hungarian capital, expressed his satisfaction, and praised the organisers’ work, the stadium, and the attitude of the Hungarians.
‘Everything is in place for a great world championships, and I hope it goes well; the signs are definitely positive!’ Sebastian Coe, who has begun his last WA presidential term, said. According to him, the conditions are set for an excellent sporting event, but
the most crucial ingredient for a successful championship is high-quality competitions and record-breaking performances,
which, considering the 2023 athletics results so far, are almost guaranteed.
The most anticipated events of the championships are the men’s and women’s 100-metre dashes. In the former, it is virtually impossible to name a single favourite; in fact, there are 7–8 sprinters in the field who could win.
Last year, American athletes took the top three places. However, this time, only the defending champion Fred Kerley will compete. There is still a possibility for another American sweep, as besides Kerley, Noah Lyles, the defending champion in the 200-metre dash, as well as 2019 World Champion Christian Coleman will all be in the running. However, it is also possible that none of them will make it to the podium. This year, the fastest run was made by British sprinter Zharnel Hughes (9.83 seconds), ahead of the Kenyan Ferdinand Omanya (9.84 seconds), and Olympic champion Lamont Marcell Jacobs from Italy will also be competing with high hopes.
In the women’s category, the fight for the title of the fastest seems to be a three-way battle. Namely, last year’s winner, the indefatigable Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, the silver medallist from Eugene and the current highest-ranked sprinter (with 10.65 seconds) from Jamaica, the American champion with a personal best time of 10.71 seconds this season, Sha’Carri Richardson, and Shericka Jackson also from Jamaica are expected to be vying for victory in the 100 metres race.
At the Budapest World Championships, individual event champions will be receiving a $70,000 prize, while gold-winning relays will receive $80,000, with a $100,000 bonus for setting a world record.