Doha 2019: Greg Rutherford 'would back' boycotters

European long jump champion Greg Rutherford
Greg Rutherford would have preferred the 2019 championships to have taken place in Eugene, Oregon

Olympic long jump champion Greg Rutherford says he would support any athlete who chooses to boycott the 2019 World Championships in Doha.external-link

The decision to award Qatar the event has been criticised because of the country's treatment of migrant workers.

Rutherford hoped Qatar's success in beating rival bids from Barcelona and US city Eugene was based on a "safe and good environment" for its workers.

"Nobody should lose their life in the creation of a sporting venue," he said.

Qatar is also due to host football's World Cup in 2022external-link with a refurbished Khalifa International Stadium in Doha - also a World Cup venue - earmarked as the main arena for 2019.

"I'd like to think everyone involved with the bid and the subsequent building of the facilities are going to stick to the rules," added Britain's Rutherford, 28.

The Commonwealth and European gold medallist was speaking as he was named British Athletics Writers' Association (BAWA) male athlete of the year.

He hoped athletes and governing bodies would have the courage to "speak out" and "cause problems" if subsequent details emerged of mistreatment and abuse of migrant workers.

European 10,000m champion Jo Pavey
European 10,000m champion Jo Pavey would have reservations about competing in Doha

"Ultimately, we're not in the Dark Ages any more," he added.

"We need to make sure those sorts of things are sorted. The only way you're going to change people in that way, is by not going to the event.

"If an athlete feels strong enough to not be involved, I'd wholeheartedly support them."

Britain's European 10,000m champion Jo Pavey, who collected the female title at the BAWA awards, admitted she would "feel uncomfortable" competing in Doha.

"Human rights are obviously much more important than sport," she said.

"As athletes, it's very difficult for us when we don't get to choose where the championships are held.

"Going towards Beijing in 2008, we were put in that kind of position and it does make you feel uncomfortable."

Clive Efford, Labour's Shadow Minister for Sport, expressed his opposition when Doha was named as host city on Tuesday.

He said: "The IAAF [International Association of Athletics Federations] must be aware of the scandal of the treatment of migrant workers in Qatar.

"This is an appalling decision that risks bringing the sport into disrepute. I urge the IAAF to reconsider their decision."

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