PORTLAND, Ore. — The World Athletics Championships will be held in the United States for the first time ever this summer and Eugene is set to be the host.
More than 2,000 athletes from over 200 countries will compete in track and field events at Hayward Field on the University of Oregon campus. The World Athletics Championships Oregon 22 is set to run from July 15-24. The event started in 1983 and is pegged as the world's most prestigious track and field event.
"Our very own Team USA will have the opportunity to compete on a global level on U.S. soil," said Oregon Gov. Kate Brown during a news conference Wednesday morning. "Oregon 22 will draw thousands upon thousands of visitors from across the globe to our state and we are ready to welcome them. Hayward Field is the heart and home of track and field."
Brown said the selection committee's decision to name Eugene as host reinforces the city's reputation as Track Town USA. A number of Oregon athletes comprise Team USA including shot put champion Ryan Crouser and Olympic bronze medalist Raevyn Rogers.
"We are so honored to cheer on these amazing athletes and welcome the world," Brown said. "This is truly a time for Oregon to shine."
Organizers said the athletes are usually housed in hotels, but this year they will be in dormitories on campus, which will create a unique Olympic-style village experience.
Throughout the 10-day championships, a free fan festival will be held at the newly built three-and-a-half acre Downtown Riverfront Park. Visitors will be able to watch events live on big screens, buy food and drinks and shop arts and crafts made by local vendors.
Eugene Mayor Lucy Vinis said the city is seeking financial support to run the festival.
"We are investing in bike share and scooters and ways in which people can get around on their own two feet, because there's a whole riverfront of bike paths and walking paths. So people can easily get back and fourth without having to get into a car," Vinis said. "Without having to worry about where they parked their car."
The event will have a big tourism and economic impact on not only Eugene, but the entire state as visitors book hotel rooms along Interstate 5 and support local businesses.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has a very sudden and significant impact on Oregon's travel and tourism industry. Especially in it's hospitality sector," said Todd Davidson, the chief executive of Travel Oregon.
Davidson cited a study conducted by ECONorthwest in 2015 when Oregon was preparing to bid to host the World Athletics Championships. He said the study estimated that the event would bring in $52 million in direct spending and a total of $138 million from good and services.
Tickets for the event are now available on the World Athletics Championship's website and more than 100,000 tickets have been sold.