European Athletics Championships, Zurich 2014

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It’s always good to watch athletes achieving PBs, breaking world records an generally excelling at things you cannot even comprehend being remotely competent in doing. But one of the disappointing things about attending an event is seeing all of the empty seats surrounding you. Particularly at sports events knowing that there are dedicated sports players the world over who would give anything to be there.
I was fortunate enough to be given a ticket to the European Athletics championships in Zurich thanks to a generous volunteer and I was extremely grateful to be there. It’s two years since I went to an athletics event and now the London Olympics just seems like a distant memory. However the spirit and energy in the city that summer was overwhelming. It was the best year to be living in London absorbing all of the positivity for once. This was somewhat lacking in Zurich to say the least. This may have been largely due to the half filled Letzigrund. Why was it so under capacity you may ask. Probably due to the fact that the tickets were so incredibly over priced, that even the average Zureicher couldn’t justify taking out a mortgage to attend.
Watching play back footage of the crowd was utterly cringeworthy seeing a sea of empty seats and missed opportunities. The ticket price was fixed at an astronomically high rate and could not be possibly be lowered. Whether this was to save face to avoid admitting that they were unaffordable, I am uncertain. But there is no excuse for letting them lay to waste. Rather than a fire sale the organisers could have simply donated then to schools and athletics clubs to harness the opportunity to inspire young Swiss minds.
It’s not often that I’m proud of my home nation’s general athleticism. Granted there is still a colossal amount to achieve in getting the population active and living healthy lives. However the generation of young athletes that were borne out of hosting the world games is awe inspiring. I watched a number or Britons triumph across a range of heats. I wasn’t beaming with patriotic pride and and wailing God Save the Queen as the Jack was raised by any means but I was impressed by the athletic achievement.
This is not a rant against the organisers or a complaint about the expense of living in Switzerland but merely an acknowledgment of how sad it was to see a valuable opportunity missed. It’s a shame to know that schools and clubs could have thoroughly enjoyed a visit to the stadium but instead thousands of tickets never even exchanged hands. I can only hope it’s a lesson learned for future events.

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