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European Athletics chief hails ‘best-ever’ Championships

European Athletics president Svein Arne Hansen has paid tribute to Berlin’s staging of the European Athletics Championships, labelling the competition as the best-ever edition of the event as it concluded yesterday (Sunday) in the German capital.

The event formed part of the inaugural European Championships, which Berlin co-hosted alongside Glasgow. The Scottish city hosted golf, aquatics, cycling, gymnastics, rowing and triathlon events, with Berlin staging athletics competitions.

The new format for the event has been deemed a success and Hansen stated that Berlin had delivered “the best European Championships ever”.

The event has also been labelled a winner in terms of media coverage, with the Championships having been delivered by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) consortium of public-service broadcasters to a host of territories across the continent.

Stefan Kuerten, executive director of EBU Sport, said: “We brought in the best media we had, the best host broadcasters and services. On top of that we brought 40 EBU member organisations with us who cleared their schedules and went for between 8-12 hours live coverage for a new event. As you would say in poker, we went ‘all in’. When we see what Berlin did, what European Athletics did, what Glasgow did, it was beyond expectations.

“The viewing figures have been incredible in Germany, and in Norway, where the reach was 80 per cent. We have had a 50 per cent reach in the Czech Republic, and between 30-40 per cent in Switzerland. The whole concept flies. It shows how free-to-air public service broadcasting is an incredible partner for multi-sport events.”

Around 45,000 spectators attended the final night’s action in Berlin yesterday. Including the qualification day, some 360,000 spectators attended events at the Olympiastadion. The European Mile, which acted as the finishing line for the marathon and walking events, also attracted around 150,000 spectators.

“That means we activated more than 500,000 people for our sport,” Frank Kowalski, chief executive of Berlin 2018, said. “This was beyond our expectations. But this is not an accident. There was a really strong concept behind it when we went into the bidding in 2013.”

A crowd of 60,500 also attended Saturday evening’s session at the Olympiastadion, which Kowalski said represents a step forward for athletics as a spectator sport. “That was a big change,” he said. “A session of only two hours of athletics, only finals. And in my opinion, we do not need any change of athletics. We need to have professional presentation, very compact time schedules and the emotions of the athletes, and then we have the perfect moment of athletics during the evening.”

Hansen added that Berlin 2018 has set the benchmark for future editions of the event. “We want the same system in four years,” he said. “We have an eight-year deal with the EBU and we want to have the best conditions for European athletics. If it is one city, or one region – we don’t know yet.”