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Organisers: Helsinki Games a Success, Despite Weather

Storms and rain have not prevented the success of the Helsinki Athletics World Championships. At a final press conference before the ending of the championships on Sunday evening, the IAAF declared that despite weather problems, they were pleased with the Helsinki games.

Despite what Antti Pihlakoski, Chief Executive of the organising committee, described as "awful weather conditions", no event was cancelled. When organisers asked athletes if they wished to cancel or postpone an event because of poor conditions, the answer was always 'no'. Athletes felt that the conditions affected everyone equally and they were keen to go ahead with competition despite the weather.

Pihlakoski said he was proud of the Finnish fans, who had turned up at the stadium day after day, through wind and rain, to support not only Finnish athletes, but all competitors. He added that the fans deserved a medal, for their Finnish " sisu". During the last nine days, the IAAF has calculated that 338,000 spectators attended the championships. In addition, there were 8,000 accredited observers at the stadium, bringing the total number of people who have visited the Helsinki Olympic stadium during the last week to 474,000. Pihlakoski said the global television audience for the games would exceed four billion viewers by the end of the games on Sunday night. He was especially pleased that the United States audience was provided for the first time with 50 hours of coverage from Helsinki. This was a significant development for the IAAF. TV Coverage a Plus

IAAF president Lamine Diack said that far from dying out, as some have predicted, Helsinki was the beginning of a resurgence of interest in athletics. He was particularly pleased with the presentation of the games, especially the way television broadcasts from Helsinki were helping to spark interest and enthusiasm for athletics around the world. Events such as the javelin, discus and hammer throws were becoming more popular because of excellent television coverage.

Diack added that observers from Osaka, Japan had learnt positive and valuable lessons in Helsinki for application in the next world championships. He was also encouraged by the comparative youth of the competitors and that drug testing has become more thorough and effective. He felt this new generation of athletes would develop their athletic careers in an environment where doping would not be tolerated. He was also keen to develop the themes established in Helsinki, athletics through the generations and environmental protection.

Ilkka Kanerva, chair of the Organising Committee, said that the "biggest sport event in the whole world this year" had been an "encouraging experience" and had successfully overcome the organisational challenges of such a huge and important event.

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