As the Olympic stadium of Kirkuk awaits the final touches of renovation, the tournament of track field might be shifted from Kirkuk to Baghdad, a matter made local athletes desperate.
The previous cabinet of the Iraqi government has allocated a budget of 31 billion Iraqi Dinars (USD25M) for the renovation of Kirkuk stadium yet the project has not come to end to host the tournament.
Iraqi minister of youth and sports Adnan Dirjal has promised in more than an occasion to finalize the renovation yet last payments has not been granted to the contractor.
Only 83% of the renovation plan has been implemented since last three installments have not been paid to the contractor, said Eng. Ali Hussein Faris, head of Kirkuk stadium renovation & its engineering team at the ministry of youth and sports.
“We have addressed Baghdad more than once for an installment but they replied there is no budget so the renovation is suspended,” he added.
The plan was to inaugurate the stadium for Iraq track and field championship in August but the last budgets were not available to cover stadium ceiling work, screens and surveillance system, Faris said.
We have addressed Baghdad more than once for an installment but they replied there is no budget so the renovation is suspended
The ministry of youth and sports was planning to hold the third stage of track and field tournament for over 60 sports clubs in Kirkuk stadium, a dream for the Kirkukis almost impossible to come true.
Sabah Hassan, chair of Kirkuk office of Iraq’s track and field union, said Baghdad might host the tournament in September as the renovation of Kirkuk stadium is not over.
“Kirkuk has lost a big dream for its young athletes and sports teams.”
The ministry of youth has not rescheduled the championship yet.
“This is a big sorrow for us following months of training to get the best results in our stadium but empty words distressed us since it is difficult to get medals in another stadium,” said Nour Ali, a Kirkuki sprinter.
Empty words distressed us since it is difficult to get medals in another stadium
Kirkuk Olympic stadium was built in 1982 to host for Asia qualifiers of World Cup. The stadium has seats for 24,000 spectators. Ahead of 1991, the Baa’th regime of Saddam Hussein has turned the stadium into a military base.
After toppling Saddam regime in 2003, it has become to 500 IDP families who were compensated by late Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and left to evacuate the stadium in 2009.