A furious Denise Lewis has hit out at the World Championships in Doha and athletics’ governing body after pathetic attendance for its events.
Speaking on the BBC, the 2000 Olympic heptathlon champion said the IOC has ‘let down’ the athletes competing in the Qatar capital city. ‘I can’t deny, I walked into the stadium and thought ‘is this the World Championships?” Lewis said.
‘We’ve waited til October to have stands like this, empty. Absolutely shocking.’ Dina Asher-Smith won the silver medal in the 100m in front of a virtually empty 40,000-seater stadium on Sunday night.
‘The athletes, they work so hard, they try to peak at the right time for an empty stadium, I just think it’s not right,’ Lewis continued. ‘Our governing body has let our athletes down massively.’
This is in comparison to previous World Championships, such as in London in 2017, which were played to mostly full stadiums. Social media erupted with criticism as well, with one Twitter user saying: ‘fantastic performance by Dina Asher-Smith. Well done. Shame about Doha stadium being empty.’
Another said: ‘Disappointing to watch Dina Asher-Smith’s lap of honour (silver medal) in the 100 metres World Championships in Doha. Stadium virtually empty. These Athletes deserve better.’ The World Championships were called into question again over the weekend as almost half the field in the women’s marathon failed to finish the race in temperatures upwards of 30 degrees.
Inside the stadium, technology has been used to reduce the heat, but it hasn’t attracted any more people to the stands.