In the buildup to the World Athletics Championships this week, many questioned the wisdom behind bringing the event to Qatar.
Doha did not seem like a suitable venue, with the soaring temperatures set to be a huge factor. There was also the issue of ticket sales, with only a tiny percentage of those available being sold. That has resulted in fairly sparse crowds at the event so far.
While air conditioned stadiums eased that burden for many, others were not so lucky. In order to combat the heat, the women's marathon would take place at midnight. It still wasn't enough.
Many of the competitors would be forced to withdraw due to the weather, being unable to compete in such conditions.
Only 40 of the 68 athletes would manage to finish the race, and times suffered hugely as well. Only seven women ran a time below two hours and forty minutes. Ruth Chepngetich's winning time was the slowest ever in the history of the championships.
16 women pulled out before the halfway stage. Some even collapsed during the race, with a makeshift hospital set up at the finish line to treat those who did make it that far.
Final Count for World Champs Marathon:
-41% of the field dropped out
-avg. 89deg, 75% humidity
-Only 7 women ran sub 2:40
-13 ran faster than the US Oly Trials standard
-4 teams had all 3 women finish (USA, KEN, BLR, PRK)
A marathon in Doha, Qatar, even at midnight is insane
— Steve Magness (@stevemagness) September 28, 2019
Belarus' Volha Mazuronak finished fifth in the race, but she made it clear that the decision to hold the event in Qatar was a disastrous one.
The humidity kills you. There is nothing to breathe. I thought I wouldn’t finish.
It’s disrespect towards the athletes. A bunch of high-ranked officials gathered and decided that it would take [the World Championships] here but they are sitting in the cool and they are probably sleeping right now.
With other long distance events still to come, the welfare of the athletes involved is a major concern.
While this is a huge issue, it is far from the only one in Qatar. The country's human rights record is well documented, another stick used to beat the IAAF.
With each passing day, their decision to bring the World Athletics Championship to Doha looks more and more questionable.