The London 2017 World Championships is not relying on Usain Bolt to restore the feel-good factor in athletics, says the championships’ director Niels de Vos.
Bolt is expected to make his final appearance in London before retiring and he will be the star attraction again at the same venue where he sensationally won Olympic gold in 2012.
The Jamaican is also a major draw at a time when athletics remains dogged by allegations of doping, with both Russia and Kenya facing bans from the Olympics in Rio this summer for failing to tackle cheating athletes.
London 2017 appear keen to capitalise on Bolt’s global appeal after announcing on Tuesday that children will be able to watch the Championships for £9.58, the price matching the time of the sprinter’s 100m world record.
But De Vos, London 2017’s championships director and chief executive of UK Athletics, insists next year’s event is far from a one-man show.
‘I absolutely don’t hold with the single celebrity line that occasionally gets trotted out,’ De Vos said.
‘At this year’s Anniversary Games, Saturday is outselling Friday and yet Friday is when Bolt is running.
‘People want to come and see great athletics in a great stadium and that’s what we’re offering.
‘We’ll feel pretty good if the British athletes win a medal too. I’m not naive to think he isn’t a global superstar but I don’t believe he’s the only one.’
Russia was suspended from world athletics in November and must now convince the sport’s governing bodies it has reformed its doping polices to be reinstated at the Olympics.
Three IAAF officials were banned for life in January for breaching anti-doping rules while Kenya has missed two deadlines to prove it can combat drug-taking.
‘Athletics has gone through the mill but this is our sport,’ said Cherry Alexander, London 2017 World Athletics Championships’ managing director.
‘We are the only country to ever deliver two of these championships back to back. If it can’t be turned around in London it can’t be turned around anywhere.’
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