Thessaloniki to stage track’s European Cup next summer

A day after it was announced Athens would host the IAAF World Cup athletics event next year, Greece was selected to stage another international event, the annual European Cup’s first category – a step below the Super League – next June in Thessaloniki. The Super League will be held in Malaga, Spain. The World Cup in Athens will follow the Thessaloniki event on September 16 and 17 next year. Commenting on the latest addition to the country’s sporting agenda, Greece’s Deputy Culture Minister Giorgos Orfanos, who holds the sports portfolio, said world athletics had shown faith in Greece yet again by «handing our country yet another major international competition.» Orfanos added the European Athletics Federation’s decision highlighted the country’s high sporting standards. «Our country has been summoned, once again, to prove its capabilities by utilizing the important heritage in infrastructure and facilities, as well as the experience of the successful Olympic Games,» Orfanos said. The sports minister also thanked Minos Kyriakou, president of the Greek Olympic Committee and a board member of the IAAF, for his efforts in promoting Thessaloniki’s candidacy. A day earlier, on Monday, the IAAF chose Athens as host for the World Cup in 2006. A team event, it is held every four years. The previous World Cup was staged in Madrid, Spain. The teams contesting the World Cup will be Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, Oceania, USA, Greece and the two top teams from the European Cup’s Super League in 2006. «I am certain that, following the success of the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2004, Greece will continue its tradition of hosting high-quality and successful sporting events, and will again attract world interest in athletics,» Orfanos said. The World Cup has lost some of its glamour, with fewer leading athletes making appearances ever since it was decided to stage the World Athletics Championships every two years instead of the previous four. Greece has had just one distinction at the World Cup. In 1998, triple jump athlete Olga Vasdeki won gold representing the European team.