July 29, 2011 07:30
Korea will become the first host nation in the history of the IAAF World Championships to provide an athletes village when the track and field extravaganza touches down in the southeastern city of Daegu from Aug. 27 to Sept. 4.
This means that stars such as 100-m world record holder Usain Bolt of Jamaica and Russia's pole vault queen Yelena Isinbayeva will be able to train in close proximity to the competition venues, while enjoying the kind of creature comforts and convenience usually reserved for Olympians.
Now in its final stage, the athletes village will be completed by the end of this month and ready to welcome athletes and officials. They will be permitted to enter the compound from Aug.10, with about 80 guests from Australia and Grenada expected first.
Some 3,000 athletes and officials from 207 member nations will pour into the village ahead of the opening of the World Championships. North Korea, the Dominican Republic and three other IAAF member countries that have declined to participate in the event still have the option to use the village's lavish facilities if they register before Aug.15.
According to the Daegu organizing committee, the village will be cordoned off from outsiders after athletes move in, while 800 volunteers will work inside to provide interpretation, tour guide and cleaning services.
The village sits adjacent to most of the training areas. It has 528 housing units in nine buildings and can accommodate a total of 3,500 people.
The number of rooms and bathrooms in each unit vary depending on their respective sizes, but the layout and furniture are almost uniform. The IAAF is now discussing how to assign units to athletes, although the organizing committee maintains that headliners and stars will not receive any special preference.
All of the buildings' basements contain a restaurant and a storage area for athletes. The village's largest eatery can seat up to 1,500 people and will serve Korean, Chinese, Japanese and Islamic food, as well as dishes favored by Europeans and Americans.
The village also features a public stage where performances and exhibitions of Korean culture will be provided during the championships. Athletes will be able to get to grips with Korean traditions and culture, from a traditional wedding ceremony to a samulnori (percussion quartet) show in between training and competing. Local folk dancing and taekwondo demonstrations are also included in the line-up.
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