Doha boycotters have Rutherford backing

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Greg Rutherford says he will support any athlete who chooses to boycott the 2019 World Championships, which will take place in Doha, Qatar.

The middle-eastern city fought off competition from Barcelona and USA’s Eugene to win the right to hold the prestigious competition.

However concerns have been raised regarding use of migrant workers, many of whom have already lost their lives in construction of infrastructure for the 2022 World Cup.

“Nobody should lose their life in the creation of a sporting venue,” said the Commonwealth gold medalist when speaking to the BBC.

“I’d like to think everyone involved with the bid and the subsequent building of the facilities are going to stick to the rules,”

Qatar does have pedigree when it comes to holding Athletics events, hosting the World indoor championships in 2010, as well as the Diamond League every year since 2010.

But while most the Athletics infrastructure is in place, a number of hotels and transport links will need to be built, given the popularity of the eight-day event and the small size of the country.

However the issue of migrant workers still lingers, as well as their safety. Given Qatar’s the small population of the country and significantly small percentage of skilled labourers, the use of migrant workers is a certainty.

“Ultimately, we’re not in the Dark Ages anymore,” Rutherford added. “We need to make sure those sorts of things are sorted. The only way you’re going to change people in that way, is by not going to the event.

 “If an athlete feels strong enough to not be involved, I’d wholeheartedly support them.”

World Champion Christine Ohurougu has also expressed her concern about another negative facet of the Doha bid; the temperature.

“To have the extra pressure of your body having to work against that heat, I just wonder how many people will manage,” said Ohurougu when talking to the Guardian.

The event takes place during September-October, away from the sweltering summer weather. But it will hardly be cold by any stretch of the imagination with temperatures reaching as high 38’c during that time of the year.

“It’s a concern. Maybe the sprinters can get away with it because they are not out there for that long but for the guys who are running laps and laps, they are pushing their bodies to the limit anyway, to add the extra ingredient of extreme heat, I would be worried about what would happen to them and their health, she added.”

“If it does get uncomfortably hot and starts encroaching into the area of health and safety, I think you really have to think about where you are making athletes go to. You have to warm up in the heat, compete in the heat, push your body to the extreme.”