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Saturday 5 October 2019

Sport in pictures

The Doha disconnect

The world threw a party and no-one came – soaring performances were greeted by empty seats at athletics’ showcase

The World Athletic Championships taking place in Doha this week has been the latest act of Qatari soft diplomacy through sport.

Qatar, which owns France’s most successful football club, Paris Saint-Germain, will also host the men’s football World Cup in 2022.

This week’s athletics competition has been just as exciting and emotional as we have come to expect – but the sport has nevertheless been overshadowed by controversy about the staging. This week will only foreshadow greater arguments to come when soccer hands its global showpiece to Qatar.

The two events already have much controversy in common, starting with the award of the events by the less than squeaky clean organising bodies that run them, the International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF) and the Federations International de Football Association (FIFA).

Then there is the climate. The punishing heat has been disastrous for migrant workers building the stadiums  – hundreds of workers die every year in Qatar, authorities concede, although heat exhaustion is not always acknowledged as the cause.

The heat of Doha also makes it an unpromising venue for top level sport. Most of the major events this week have taken place in the relative cool of the very late evening local time but this has brought another problem – empty stands. The sight of the women’s 100 metres winner, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, taking her lap of honour carrying her tiny baby in an almost deserted Khalifa Stadium should haunt the IAAF for a long time (though it probably won’t).

Still, despite the circumstances, the athletes have produced some golden moments, most of them by women like the Jamaican Fraser-Pryce. The Great Britain team had particular reason to be grateful to two female stars. Dina Asher-Smith, who took a first in history at King’s College, London, made history of her own by coming second in that 100m then winning the 200m in grand style – Britain’s first ever medals in the women’s short sprints.

The following day, Katarina Johnson-Thompson produced a majestic performance across the seven events of the heptathlon to win gold. What joy to see the woman who debuted as a teenager at the London 2012 Olympics winning her first global title, aged 26.

The smiles and tears of these remarkable women obscured for a few hours the grubby controversies surrounding the championships which come to a close on Sunday.

Fireworks at the opening ceremony
The Khalifa International Stadium will also host the 2022 World Cup final
Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the Amir of the State of Qatar, talks with IAAF President, Lord Coe at the opening ceremony – Coe has been prickly about criticism of crowd sizes
Ukraine’s Maryan Zakalnytskyy receives medical attention in the Men’s 50km Race Walk final
Empty seats for the Women’s 400m heats
Italy’s Daisy Osakue takes flight in the Women’s Discus heats
Tunnel vision for France’s Pascal Martinot-Lagarde in the Men’s 110m Hurdles
A helping hand from Guinea-Bissau’s Braima Suncar Dabo for Aruba’s Jonathan Busby in the Men’s 5000m heats
The Men’s 100m final – Andre de Grasse of Canada got bronze behind Christian Coleman and Justin Gatlin of the USA
Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce celebrates her 100m gold, on a lap of honour with her son Zyon
Crowd trouble?
Ethiopia’s Muktar Edris is congratulated by compatriot Telahun Haile Bekele after the Men’s 5000m final
Qatar’s Abderrahman Samba celebrates his 400m Hurdles bronze medal
Sophie McKinna was the first woman from Great Britain to reach a world championships Shot Put final since 1983
Pascal Martinot-Lagarde of France can’t stop hurdling after grabbing bronze
The Women’s 3000m Steeplechase final provides a cooling moment
When pole vaulters don’t ever want to come back down
Christian Coleman holds off reigning world champion Justin Gatlin in the 100m
History maker: Dina Asher-Smith of Great Britain celebrates after winning gold in the Women’s 200m final

All photographs Getty Images