“Birmingham has hosted some of the best events we have had. We feel we are in the home of British Athletics. It is the UK Athletics headquarters and most of us remember very fondly the 2003 championships here. We have had World Half Marathon Championships, the Diamond League and indoor tour. So we are in very safe hands.
“We are in a city that really does get athletics. We are delighted to be here. The UK has been a trusted and regular host to our events. We had an epic World Championships in London only a few months ago.”
“I got an interesting statistic that 60% of spectators in the stadium in the next few days have never been to international athletics before. That is largely inspired by what happened in London. I love indoor racing, partly because I did it and I know what fun it is. I love watching the progress the athletes make into a summer season.”
On the competition:
“We have some pretty delicious tussles. Our sport is about head-to-heads. Christian Coleman (USA) and Su (Bingtian) (CHN) is one of those head-to-heads. It was not something we were expecting a few months ago and it will whet the appetite for the summer season.”
On the event presentation in Arena Birmingham :
“We want to do some things differently. The objective is to try to make the sport more accessible and easier to understand. That will be done around the approach to social media and TV presentation in the stadium.
“You have an inbuilt intimacy indoors. We will be across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and we have puzzles and challenges – all the things that re-engage our sport, particularly with young people. We will have live polling on smart phones and a live social wall where spectators will be able to post their messages straight on to the big screen.”
On starting the event this evening (Thursday) with focus a on the high jump competitions:
“In Portland (at the 2016 World Indoors) we did this with the pole vault. There were queues on Friday night and we let people in and let them sit around the pole vault area. It matters to get people close to the action. Ticket sales have been powerful.”
On diversity in athletics:
“We set ourselves a very ambitious target of making sure our sport reflects the world we live in. Diversity is not a nice-to-have. It is absolutely essential and makes us a better sport.
“For us, the female athletes are far more than simply role models for the sport. They are role models beyond the sport in terms of ambition, determination and health and fitness. It is important that we celebrate that. We are proud that we are a sport with 50-50 representation now on the field of play.
“It is important that we make that progress in our Member Federations, governance structures and technical officials and coaching structures.”
Councillor Ian Ward – Leader of Birmingham City Council and Chair of Executive Steering Group
On Birmingham’s experience as a host for major events:
“We are delighted to be hosting this event for the second time, 15 years after we successfully staged it in 2003. We do like to think we are second to none in hosting major sporting events and our reputation carries around the world.
“We have very fond memories of the championships in 2003 and it is very exciting to be welcoming the world’s best athletes to Birmingham. We have a strong affiliation with athletics and we are very proud to be the home of British Athletics.”
On Arena Birmingham:
“Arena Birmingham has benefited from a £26 million refurbishment since 2003. So we now have even better facilities for athletes, spectators and the media. The arena was purpose-built for indoor athletics. So I have the opinion that we have the best indoor venue for athletics anywhere in the world. We hope to demonstrate that this weekend.”
On the unusually cold weather in Britain for the championships:
“It is a bit cold outside, so to anyone coming to the championships, I would say: ‘Plan your journeys well ahead and take note of the weather forecast.’ But no matter how cold it is outside, inside the arena the competition will be red hot.”