World Athletics Championships: Kevin Mayer calls Doha event a ‘disaster’

World champion decathlete Kevin Mayer says holding the World Athletics Championships in Doha is a “disaster”.

The championships started on Friday but 28 runners dropped out of the women’s marathon because of 32C temperatures even though it was held at midnight.

Crowds in the Khalifa International Stadium have so far been sparse.

“We can all see it’s a disaster, there is no-one in the stands, and the heat has not been adapted at all,” the French world record holder, 27, said.

“There have already been nearly 30 withdrawals in the women’s marathon. It’s sad.

“We have to leave reason aside and more concentrate on the passion, because if not I would have boycotted these championships.

“We haven’t really prioritised athletes when organising the championships here. It makes it difficult.”

The women’s marathon was run in 70% humidity as 28 runners dropped out, including Britain’s Charlotte Purdue, from a starting field of 68.

Although track and field athletes will be aided by an air-conditioned stadium, which IAAF president Sebastian Coe said reduces the temperature to 23C, the marathon and walking races are held outside.

The men’s and women’s 50km walk are set to begin at 23:30 local time on Saturday.

Before the women’s marathon was held, athletics’ governing body the IAAF issued a statement saying it had “done everything possible to minimise the heat-related risks” and that the race would be “run at an acceptable level of health risk”.

France’s Yohann Diniz will be attempting to retain his world title in the 50km walk but said: “I am extremely upset. If we were in the stadium we would have normal conditions, but outside they have placed us in a furnace, which is just not possible.

“They are making us guinea pigs.”

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