European Athletics President Dobromir Karamarinov offered sympathy and support for all those affected by last month’s earthquakes in Türkiye as he spoke at the press conference ahead of the European Athletics Indoor Championships in Istanbul from 2-5 March.
“These championships take place in the shadow of the terrible earthquake that struck this country less than a month ago,” Karamarinov said.
“All our thoughts continue to be with those who lost loved ones and have been affected by this big, big tragedy in other ways.
“European Athletics will therefore be focusing on the safety of our athletes and the competition itself, along with providing help, support - and some hope - to the people of Turkey.
“The athletes have to compete in what will be the first championships after such a great tragedy, and now we will work to deliver them. The hard work, commitment and resolve of everyone in the Istanbul 2023 Local Organising Committee and the Turkish Athletic Federation has been nothing short of inspiring.
“Because of the circumstances the usual celebratory side-events and activities will be at a minimum this year and there has been and will be no local promotion for the Championships.
“European Athletics will also donate €1 for every ticket sold for the Istanbul 2023 European Athletics Indoor Championships since 7 February. I also want to thank our Member Federations for showing solidarity with the people of Türkiye and taking part in different projects and funding programmes.
Karamarinov then added his personal message of support to others written on the backboard used during the press conference.
“I am with you” he wrote alongside Dutch indoor 400m world record-holder Femke Bol’s message: “We are all supporting you” and the words from France’s double world champion Kevin Mayer: “All my thoughts for the victims and their families. May they rest in peace.”
Looking ahead to the championships which will take place in the Atakoy Stadium, Karamarinov said: “We have 593 athletes from 47 countries registered in our entry list and we are very near to having more women than men at a Championships - only nine more men than women are entered for Istanbul.
“It might be that once we have counted the numbers who compete, women might be the higher figure, which will be the first time in the history of European Championships. And tonight we will have even numbers of men and women, with 84 men and 84 women competing.
“We will have seven Olympic champions taking part in this event, and 17 European indoor champions, including the Dutch men’s and women’s 4x400m relay teams.
“The seven Olympic champions due to compete are, on the men’s side, Lamont Marcell Jacobs in the 60m, Karsten Warholm in the 400m, Jakob Ingebrigtsen in the 1500 and 3000m, Miltiadis Tentoglou in the long jump and Pedro Pichardo in the triple jump.
“On the women’s side we have Malaika Mihambo in the long jump and Nafissatou Thiam in the pentathlon.”
The press conference ended with a one-minute silence to remember all those who had died in the earthquake.
Mike Rowbottom for European Athletics