Foot-and-Mouth Scare Forces Cancellation of Leopardstown World X-C Championships

The World Cross Country Championships on March 24th and 25th have made the expected move from Dublin to Brussels because of the foot-and-mouth epidemic.  The AAI were today forced to abandon their plans to stage the championships at Leopardstown racecourse after receiving notification from the Department of Agriculture of the risks involved if the event went ahead.  As soon as that decision was made, the IAAF announced that a course in Brussels would stage the event on the same weekend.  For the AAI, the difficult decision of abandoning Leopardstown brings a number of complications – not least a major blow to morale within the association. International secretary and event director Chris Wall says that it’s too early to even estimate the financial loss, but the more immediate disappointment is to see 14 months’ work gone to waste.  “We just don’t know yet what the final cost for us will be,” he said. “A lot of our expenditure has already gone out on things like hotel deposits and we just don’t know how much we will get back. But of course the national interest was going to dictate what we would do”.  For the athletes, the news also brings obvious disappointment.  “It is a huge anti-climax,” said national champion Seamus Power, who is gearing for the long-course race. “We were all looking forward to running in Leopardstown, and I feel very sorry for the organisers. This will be remembered as the year when the World Cross Country Championships were supposed to come to Dublin, but they didn’t”.