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(Yonhap Interview) Daegu mayor brands world championships a success
DAEGU, Sept. 4 (Yonhap) -- The city of Daegu hosted "an extremely successful" World Championships in Athletics for the past nine days and it has instilled confidence in its citizens, the city's mayor said Sunday.

   In an interview with Yonhap News Agency, Mayor Kim Bum-il, also a co-chair of the championships' organizing committee, said the biennial athletics competition has also helped raise the "brand value of Daegu."

   "Volunteers, fans and Daegu citizens have helped the success with their passion and dedication," Kim said. "We will try to channel this success into more investments (into Daegu) and tourism, and also our 'post-2011' project to further upgrade Daegu."

   Kim also said the championships will serve as a turning point for local athletics.

   "This event helped let people know track and field can be fun and that it's a first-quality sport," he said. "This will form the groundwork for further growth of Korean athletics."

   The following is the Q-and-A with Kim.

  
Question: What kind of legacy did the championships leave for Daegu and its citizens?

   Answer: In a country where track and field isn't very popular, citizens dedicated themselves for the successful staging of the championships. I am proud of Daegu citizens. The championships raised the brand value of Daegu and the people as a whole regained their self-esteem.

  
Q: How do you assess the championships overall?

   A: Jacques Rogge, the president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and Lamine Diack, the head of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), said the event was surprisingly successful. They said they honestly hadn't expected such success. In particular, they highly valued the citizens' enthusiastic participation and quality management of the championships. They said it was a very good idea for the improvement of global athletics to open the morning sessions to local students.

  
Q: What was the force behind the successful staging?

   A: I would like to say it's due to the spirit of Daegu. Our citizens came together to help let the world know about Daegu and develop our city into a global city of the 21st century. I can't thank them enough.

  
Q: What do you regret most about the event?

   A: They say track and field takes up half of an Olympics. It shows you how difficult and important it is to organize and manage a track and field event. I am sorry that we had some issues with transportation and catering early on, and we fixed them as soon as we could and ensured smooth running the rest of the way. We will try to learn our lessons and stage more quality international events in the future.

  
Q: Daegu and its citizens have spent a great deal of energy over the past several years to prepare for the championships. What has been the biggest challenge?

   A: Honestly, the athletics world championships is the most difficult event to host in the world. You only see one-third of what goes on during the competition. Underneath, you have communication, information technology, language problems and accommodations, among others. To meet our high standards, we had numerous challenges. But volunteers, the organizing committee and citizens all came together to help raise the class of Daegu.

  
Q: How do you plan to ride the momentum from the successful championships?

   A: From the time we were bidding for the event, the No. 1 goal was to let the world know about Daegu. Outside Korea, people just don't know about Daegu. We've made great strides, and we should continue to raise the brand value of Daegu and channel this success into more investments and tourism. The goal is to extend this success to more international events and investments.

  
Q: Do you have any last words for Daegu citizens?

   A: As the mayor, I would like to thank them from the bottom of my heart. I hope we can all come together to use this positive energy to help Daegu take the next step.

  
Kim Bum-il (Yonhap file photo)


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