Plenty of spectators, lots of media coverage and a good atmosphere. The new multi-city, multi-sport European Championships has reached its goals, but there's always room for improvement.
Those behind the idea to hold the European Championships in Berlin and Glasgow can be satisfied. The theory ran that combining sporting events would counter the dominance of football, earning more fans and media attention for track and field athletes, cyclists, gymnasts and swimmers.
It's succeeded, both in terms of fans in the stadium and viewers on TV. About 4.7 million people watched the competition on Friday on German TV, and while Saturday's number was slightly down at 4.5 million, it was still impressive. Both days reached a peak rating of 18 percent of the viewership. "Those numbers are beyond our expectations," said Thomas Fuhrmann, the sports director of German broadcaster ZDF, adding he is "pleasantly surprised."
In total, more than 400,000 fans have watched the various competitions at the venues in both cities, 300,000 of those were in Berlin.
The athletes were impressed by the atmosphere at the city's Olympiastadion. "The fantastic scenery has spurred me on and carried me over the bar,” said Germany's European champion high jumper Mateusz Przybylko, and 100-meter hurdles silver medalist Pamela Dutkiewicz agreed. "I think I'll never see anything like this again,” she said.
That success has also trickled down to the host cities themselves. 15,000 spectators came to Berlin's Breitscheidplatz every day to see the medal ceremonies for themselves.
Despite all that, something was missing for Germany's successful track and field team. "Why was (Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel) not here?” asked shot put silver medalist Christina Schwanitz, adding that it's a "shame” that Germany's leader didn't attend the events.
It can get better
The next European Championships are four years away. This time the organizers want to listen to the athletes' demands and hold the competition in one city rather than two, in order to try and create more of an "Olympic feeling.” From the athletes' point of view, such an idea would have been beneficial, many argue. "A village where you can intreact with other athletes is missing here,” said German gymnast Kim Bui.
"We are just getting started,” said Marc Jörg, one of the men behind the competition's concept. "We will do way better in the future.”
First interested cities for 2022
Clemens Prokop, the head of the European Championship's organizing committee, has already called for a renewed Berlin bid for 2022, but as a single host. Hamburg has also expressed interest.
Reports that the Olympiastadion's tracks will be removed at the request of Bundesliga club Hertha Berlin were denied by Sebastian Coe, the President of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). "I had a meeting with Berlin's mayor, and he assured me that the track will remain for the foreseeable future,” Coe told German outlet Tagesspiegel. One less hurdle for a repeat in Berlin 2022.