11/11/2018 8:04:17 PM

Coe warns against boycott of Qatar World Athletics Championships

Coe warns against boycott of Qatar World Athletics Championships

Doha: Sebastian Coe said on Sunday that sport should take precedence over politics and urged nations locked in a diplomatic dispute with Qatar not to boycott next year's world athletics championships in Doha.

The IAAF president was speaking in the Qatari capital as organisers launched ticketing arrangements for next year's event, the first athletics world championships to be held in the Middle East.

"I fully expect a full contingent of federations to be there," said Coe, a double Olympic gold medallist.

"And it's very important that international sport consistently and continually makes the point that we have primacy over politics and that is very important."

Qatar has been isolated for the past 17 months by Saudi Arabia and its allies including the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt, who have imposed a near-total embargo on Qatar since June, 2017.

The World Athletics Championships is potentially the first major global sporting test of Qatar's regional isolation.

The football Gulf Cup, meant to be hosted by Qatar beginning in December, 2017, saw Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain withdraw from the event, before rejoining after it was switched to Kuwait.

Coe said next year's championships, which run for 10 days and begin on September 27, was "very important" as it would give athletics a "footprint" in the region.

The event will see several innovations, including evening-only sessions, a marathon held at midnight because of fears over temperatures, and mixed-race World Championship relays for the first time.

It will also mostly be held at the air-conditioned Khalifa Stadium.

The IAAF announced that stadium ticket prices will begin at 60 Qatari riyals, ($16, 14 euros).

It also said it would not introduce a new qualification system for athletes for these championships.

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