World Athletics Championships '99 in Seville

World Athletics Championships '99 in Seville

Seville has a history of hosting grandiose events, including those featuring sport and athletics. The city has two major soccer clubs, a basketball league, two rugby and one equestrian team and is the seat of the Spanish Soccer Selection. On a tamer note, the world chess championship was held here.

However, it is in the world of athletics that this Andalusian city really comes out a winner, when Seville hosted the 7th World Athletics Championship. Ever since the presentation of pre-candidature in early February, 1994, the city had been preparing for this great sports event to be held at the Olympic Stadium.  This magnificent stadium was officially opened on May 5th 1999 and has a capacity for more than 60,000 spectators with 40,000 parking places. It is also conveniently located just 10 minutes from both the airport and train station.

The construction of the stadium was funded by the Andalusian government, the Spanish government, the Provincial Council of Seville and the City Council of Seville. On 2nd November 1995, the Olympic Stadium Society was formed with the participation of local football clubs, Seville FC and Real Betis Balompié, together with the Isla Mágica Society, and the management committee of the theme and leisure park of the same name. Local architects, Antonio Ortiz and Antonio Cruz were selected for the design having already been responsible for the Santa Justa train station in Seville and the Community of Madrid Stadium.

In addition to the stadium venue, the marathon took place throughout the historic part of the capital. This was fully televised and will include the route of the Guadalquivir river on Cartuja island situated parallel to the river with a length of some 2.500 metres.

According to an IAAF spokesman, more than 2,000 athletes from around the world arrived in the city to prepare and train for the championship at one of five training centres, including the San Pablo Sports Complex - the site of the 1991 World Covered Track Championship.

The World Athletics Championship kicked off with an opening ceremony on 20th August 1999. This had been created by Manuel Coronado, responsible, among other things, for the lake performance and closing ceremony of Expo 92, as well as the opening and closing of the Sierra Nevada World Alpine Ski Championship in 1996.

The ceremony was called 'Sons of Hercules' and represented the mythological hero, founder of the city of Seville, who reached immortality and came to crown the victors of the Games. The brilliant Cordovian dancer, Joaquin Cortés performed at the opening ceremony. Cortés reached international fame with his own company: Joaquin Cortés Flamenco and his 'Pasión Gitana' spectacular which had been been performed world-wide.

More than 3,026 volunteers trained for the championship while some 66 hotels prepared for the influx of more than 3,000 people. Due to the heat, for the first time in the history of the World Championships, only 4 morning sessions will take place (plus the ladies marathon). The timetable ran from Saturday 21st August until Sunday 29th August and included the following events: steeplechase, discus, high/long/triple jump, javelin, hammer, pole vault, 110m hurdles, 50 km walk, and decathlon. Tickets ranged from just 1,000  pesetas (6€) to 8,500 for a day and 5,000 pesetas (30 €) to 62,000 pesetas (370 €) for the most expensive seats. The cost of entry to the opening ceremony is not included in these prices. These similarly range from 1,000 pesetas (6€) to 10,000 pesetas (60€). Apparently a third of all tickets had been sold abroad. The countries who have purchased the highest number of season tickets were Great Britain, the USA and Germany.

There was a regular shuttle service operating from the centre of the city to the Olympic Stadium.