European Athletics interim president Dobromir Karamarinov has been unanimously elected, running unopposed, as the sixth president of the federation.
The Bulgarian Athletics coach and sports leader – who first earned a seat on the European Athletics Council in 2007 – was elected by his peers at the 27th Congress held at the Hotel Royal Savoy in Lausanne on Thursday. The presidential election was not initially planned for the Congress, however it became necessary because of the vacant position following the death of former president Sven Arne Hansen in June 2020.
Forty-nine of 50 member federations are present in the Olympic capital as events and activities proceed with the European Athletics Convention opening on Thursday night and the Golden Tracks Awards Gala on Saturday evening. World Athletics president Sebastian Coe is also attending proceedings in Lausanne.
Karamarinov, who emphasized the importance of athletics getting back on track in 2021 considering the great success of European athletes at the Tokyo Olympic Games, in addition to numerous European competitions that were staged over recent summer months, also addressed the myriad opportunities and challenges relating to a busy and tightly scheduled 2022 season ahead.
“The schedule will be so tight in 2022 and it will affect some athletes for sure, and especially those who compete in the Commonwealth Games – they will have to choose which championships to participate,” Karamarinov said, answering a question from Around the Rings.
The IAAF World Athletics Championships take place in Oregon, United States, July 15-24, the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England, July 29 to August 8, and the multi-sport European Championships in Munich, August 11-21.
“The multi-sport championships will only be affected a little bit by the schedule – I’m quite sure that our top stars will compete in Munich.”
The Bulgarian leader said European athletes are excited to compete at the first-ever world championships in the U.S., despite the lengthy travel and potentially complicated logistics.
“Looking at other sports, for example tennis, we see how athletes who are in good shape and have good motivation travel from one point of the world to another, so I don’t think there is any problem,” he said.
Karamarinov highlighted the importance of athletics gaining exposure and becoming a showcase event at the 2023 European Games in Krakow, Poland. Events will be contested approximately 85 kilometers northwest of the host city, in an existing 50,000-capacity stadium in Silesia. He says the format remains to be determined.
“Our goal together with the European Olympic Committees is that we have to have the top athletes at the European Games and this is the case for 2023,” Karamarinov said.
“I can proudly say we have a signed agreement, we have money in our bank account as a guarantee and it will not only be financial value for European Athletics, but also big value for all of us, member federations and the European Games also.”
In other elections, Jean Gracia of France was elected as a vice president and will serve alongside Cherry Alexander of Great Britain and Libor Varhanik of the Czech Republic, both of whom won full four-year terms at the 2019 Congress in Prague. Two vacant positions on the European Athletics Council were filled by Juergen Kessing of Germany and Henryk Olszewski of Poland.
Karamaranov will serve at least two years as European Athletics president with the next elections scheduled for the 2023 Congress to be held in Belgrade, Serbia on April 21-23 of that year.
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