The 2007 Archery World Championships in Leipzig are set to be the high point in the German Shooting Federation's (DSB) sporting calendar for the coming year. All of the best archers in the world will be participating, and the preparations for this peak event represent a big logistical and organisational challenge for the city of Leipzig and the DSB.
We have discussed the coming event with the President of the German Shooting Federation, Josef Ambacher:
"Mr. Ambacher, how are the preparations for the World Championships in July 2007 in Leipzig coming along? Are there any difficulties, or are you satisfied with the state of the organisation?"
"At the moment, there are no really significant problems. Of course, an event of this magnitude always calls for a major effort. A large number of people are involved in the preparations, there are many institutions which have been occupying themselves for some time with the Championships, and nobody is perfect, but I have to say that up to now everyone is busily playing their part, and I am very optimistic that at the end of the day, the German Shooting Federation, the city of Leipzig and our nation will prove ourselves to have been good hosts to the many athletes, coaches and officials from all over the world."
"At first there were two possible locations for the World Championships, the Rosental and the Festwiese. How was the final decision arrived at?"
"It's true, we had the option of two very beautiful arenas in which to stage the battle for the world titles. However, both the city of Leipzig and the German Shooting Federation were of the opinion that the Festwiese presented the better alternative, because all of the necessary logistical services are already there. However, for a long while FITA had reservations about the use of this site, because in spite of a usable area of 4 hectares, the timing of the qualification rounds was not going to fit into the traditional time-frame of the international federation.
"At the request of the organisation and the community, FITA has however decided to accept an alteration to the time plan, in order to guarantee ideal conditions for the media and spectators. The 2007 World Championships will therefore take place on the Leipzig Festwiese, and I can only congratulate those involved in taking this decision."
"From the spectator's point of view, what is so special about the Festwiese?"
"Simply, the situation at the Festwiese is ideal for the viewing public. For example, in the qualification rounds they can get right up next to the action. We can also bring in seating for the two final days, which we expect will provide for up to three thousand spectators, and of course, I hope that the people of Leipzig and the surrounding region will respond by coming to this attraction."
"What is the special sporting significance of these World Championships?"
"Leipzig 2007 is not just the World Championships, it's also the chance to qualify for the 2008 Olympic Games in Peking. That means that, with few exceptions, all nations will be battling for the coveted 'Olympic tickets' here in Saxony, which of course means that we will see sporting performances of the highest order. For sure, we will witness some dramatic duels between the best archers in the world and of course we hope that, when it gets down to the medals and placings, our German athletes are right there in the thick of it."
"Are you hoping that the World Championships will have a wider impact on archery in Germany, a kind of impulse for the future?"
"These World Championships will be a showcase, not just for our country and the organisation of this event, but also for the sport of archery itself. In the past years, we have made especially good progress, in the area of school sport for example. Young people are fascinated when they come into contact with this elegant discipline. Ever more co-operative agreements between schools and clubs are coming into being at local level, and of course these world-class competitions in our own backyard can be a further catalyst for positive developments in this direction.
"Moreover, we must not forget that adults are also showing a growing interest in archery. For example, many people encounter it on their holidays, because it's on offer in many holiday resorts, and of course those who are impressed by the positive energy of this discipline go home and get involved with their local clubs. Archery is a sport which improves the concentration and is an exceptionally good way of getting rid of workplace stress, and I believe that these World Championships in Germany will show nothing but positive aspects.
"I am also personally very happy to be in a position to welcome athletes from all five continents to Leipzig. To you, I promise that we will do all in our power to offer you comfortable conditions, suited to the highest levels of performance. We hope that you will feel at home in the city of Leipzig, in the state of Saxony, and of course in Germany at large, and that you will return home with only the best of memories. And today, I say to you already: A warm welcome to the 44th World Archery Championships in Leipzig."