MOSCOW, August 20 (R-Sport) – With the closure of Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium and no suitable alternative venue to host track and field events, there is little chance the Russian capital will be able to stage top-level athletics competitions in the near future, the president of the All-Russian Athletics Federation (ARAF) said Tuesday.
His remarks come two days after the end of the world athletics championships - the most high-profile international track and field competition after the Olympics - in Moscow, which saw Russia emerge as the surprise medals leader with seven gold and 17 overall.
Following the Sunday closing ceremony, host venue Luzhniki was effectively shuttered until 2017 for an $800 million refurbishment program to prepare for the FIFA 2018 World Cup.
“In the near future we’ll be able to carry virtually no major athletics championships in Moscow,” president Valentin Balakhnichev said at a Moscow press conference.
“Now there’s a great danger that the development of athletics in Moscow will be hindered.”
He said discussions with IAAF president Lamine Diack about adding Moscow to the Diamond League circuit went nowhere “because we do not have the appropriate stadium.”
The massive Luzhniki, which had its 75,000-seat capacity reduced to 35,000 for the championships, was fitted with an eight-lane, 48-inch Mondotrack in 2012, the same running surface used at the London 2012 and Beijing 2008 Olympics.