Officials criticized for poor preparations for world’s top track event
Children who came to watch the 13th IAAF World Championships eat their lunch while sitting in front of a public toilet at Daegu Stadium, Tuesday, underscoring the serious shortage of proper rest areas. Organizers have been criticized for preparing poorly for the spectators of the world’s top track and field meet. Korea Times photo by Kim Ju-sung
By Yoon Chul
DAEGU — Looking for genuine brewed coffee or a reasonably priced meal at Daegu Stadium? Not likely, at least for now.
As the nine-day IAAF World Championships head to the halfway point, the ability of the Daegu Organizing Committee is seriously under question.
In a mix of concern and expectation, all eyes were on Daegu to see how well officials had prepared for the world’s top track and field meet. Sports insiders have said that how the city copes with the 13th IAAF World Championships may well be a gauge of PyeongChang’s performance as the host city for the 2018 Winter Olympics.
But there have been glitches from Day 1. On Saturday, the women’s marathon was only able to start at the third time of asking, after two bungled attempts on the part of the organizers.
Then on Sunday, following the end of the men’s 100-meter final, the organizers closed off all the entrances to Daegu Stadium around 11 p.m. and left, virtually locking the reporters still filing their stories in the main press center.
The organizers were also strongly criticized for inaccurately estimating just how many reporters would come to cover the event. Over 3,000 journalists, cameramen, announcers and technicians are currently in Daegu without sufficient accommodation.
The Media Village, provided by the committee for journalists, can only accommodate 650.
As an alternative, the organizing committee arranged 18 hotels in Daegu and Gyeongju, but most of them are for athletes and officials. Only a few have been allotted to the journalists, and in the case of those staying in Gyeongju, the commute takes about an hour each way.
As a solution, the organizers have arranged smaller hotels in the city. Known as “love motels,” they are usually used by couples who rent rooms by the hour.
Though the facilities are much better than those used for the Formula 1 Korean Grand Prix in 2010 in Yeongam, South Jeolla Province, there is still an element of embarrassment.
“Love motels are a part that the country may want to hide,” said Kenji Sato, a reporter for Japan’s Yomiuri. “If I meet a couple who would have different intentions at my accommodation, it is an awkward situation.
There are also female journalists.
They may feel more embarrassed.” One of the biggest problems is food. It is virtually impossible to find appropriately-priced restaurants in and around the venue.
Some restaurants are only open to VIPs and those who bought a special ticket that combines admission to the games and the restaurants, while the more accessible eateries are overpriced or run out of food quickly.
If there is a silver lining, the organizing committee has been quick to respond to the criticism.
“What you (the organizing committee) are doing is adapting very fast. If something doesn’t work or is wrong, you are very good in changing in the short period,” a reporter from Belgium said. “They are going to go a positive way.” Michael Butcher, a veteran reporter who has been covering the world championships since 1991, also praised the organizers’ work.
“I think it is a stunning location and beautiful stadium with beautiful countryside. It is very difficult to organize something big like this. As problems arise, they try to solve them. I think it is positive,” he said.
대구 대회 중반을 향해 달려가는 이번 대회에서 조직위원회의 능력이 의심받고 있다.
전문가에 따르면 조직위원회의 대회 개최능력이 2018년 평창 동계올림픽의 척도로 삼기에는 문제가 더욱 심각하다.
개회일 열린 여자 마라톤 경우 조직위 측이 두 번이나 실수를 저지르는 바람에 경기 진행에 차질이 있었다. 대회 이튿날인 일요일, 기자들이 있는데도 불구하고 관계자들이 밤 11시 이후 대구스타디움 입구를 잠그는 어처구니 없는 일도 발생했다.
아울러 기자단 규모도 사전에 파악이 되지 않아 취재기자를 포함한 3,000명이 숙소를 찾는 데 어려움을 겪기도 했다.
조직위가 대구와 경주에 위치한 18개 호텔을 확보했으나 극소수 기자들을 제외하고는 선수 및 관계자들에게 우선권이 주어졌다.
대응책으로 마련된 러브호텔은 외국 취재진들을 당황하게 했다.
일본 요미우리 신문의 사토 겐지 기자는 “러브모텔은 한국이 외부에 보여주고 싶지 않은 문화라고 생각된다”라고 했다. 사토 기자는 “다른 목적으로 러브모텔을 방문한 투숙객과 마주쳤을 때 상황은 난처할 것”이라며 특히 여기자들에게는 더욱 이에 해당될 것이라고 말했다.