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Karamarinov: Insurance covered ‘nearly 100 per cent’ of Paris 2020 cancellation costs

Dobromir Karamarinov, the interim president of European Athletics. (Photo by Thomas Eisenhuth/Getty Images for European Athletics).

Dobromir Karamarinov, the interim president of European Athletics, has revealed the federation’s insurance policies covered ‘nearly 100 per cent’ of the costs associated with the cancellation of this year’s European Athletics Championships in Paris.

The championships were scheduled to take place from August 25-30 but the organisation was forced to call the event off in April because of the risks associated with Covid-19 and a ban on mass gatherings in France.

The decision to cancel rather than postpone left European Athletics facing compensation claims from broadcasters and sponsors. Eurovision Sport, the sports arm of the European Broadcasting Union, is the worldwide media rights-holder of the event and has already committed to a deal that runs to 2027.

Speaking to the media from the continental federation’s headquarters in Lausanne, Karamarinov said today (Thursday): “I can assure you European Athletics is very stable on the financial side and thanks to insurance for Paris 2020, the insurance fulfilled nearly 100 per cent of our costs.

“That means we are in very good shape on the financial side. It allows us to continue to support our member federations and even for next year, we [will] increase our development programme for supporting member federations. This is so important during this unpredictable time for them – we give them stability.”

The local organising committee budget for the event was €17m ($20m) but Jean Gracia, president of the Paris 2020 organising committee, told L’Équipe at the time of the cancellation that state funding guarantees would provide financial protection for the organisers.

Karamarinov said European Athletics continued to plan for a full schedule of events in 2021 and that it was modelling different scenarios to deliver these events successfully. In October, the organisation revealed it had developed a back-up hosting plan to ensure each of its events could go ahead safely in 2021, even in the case of late changes to national and international travel guidelines.

Karamarinov has served as interim president since former president Svein Arne Hansen suffered a stroke and subsequently passed away earlier this year. The Bulgarian said he would stand for election to fulfil his friend and colleague’s mandate.

“It’s my obligation to fulfil the full mandate of Svein,” he said. “It means that according to our constitution next October we have elections for the president – October 2021 – and of course I will run for the president until 2023 when the regular election congress of European Athletics will be, but I don’t want to go further [and discuss what will happen] after 2023.”

The press conference coincided with the announcement that the 2021 European Cross Country Championships will now take place in Fingal-Dublin. The Irish county of Fingal had been scheduled to host the 2020 event on December 13, but the championships were cancelled owing to the pandemic. To accommodate the change of schedule, Torino-La Mandria Park in Italy will now host the 2022 edition rather than the 2021 event.

Yesterday (Wednesday) it was announced Rome has landed hosting rights to the 2024 European Athletics Championships, seeing off competition for the event from Katowice-Silesia in Poland. However, Karamarinov praised the Polish bid and said the federation was keeping in close contact with the organisers to discuss a further candidacy for the next edition of the event.

He added that the organisation has postponed a decision on the host for the European Athletics Under 23 Championships until its next council meeting in May next year. Espoo in Finland is a candidate to host that event.

Asked if European Athletics would consider Russia as a host for any of its events following its four-year ban from all sporting events by the World Anti-Doping Agency, Karamarinov  said: “Until Russia’s suspensions is lifted they cannot host any of our events this is absolutely clear. They cannot apply, they cannot host, they cannot have a member of our bodies, they cannot have a single member of our commission.”