The ARAF President Valentin Balakhnichev comments on recent Bolt speculation
At the recent press-conference related to the ticket sales’ launch there was a mention about the negotiations between the LOC and Bolt’s management. Namely that LOC rejected the offer to make the world’s fastest man the poster boy of the event because of the high financial demands of his management. Is that so?
The LOC of the Moscow 2013 IAAF World Championships indeed received several offers of this kind from different athletes, but as for Bolt – there were no contacts or negotiations between the LOC and Ricky Simms.
So what was the matter with Bolt being too expensive to afford?
It’s a common situation with media. When a sentence is being taken out of a context. In a reply for a question about the poster athletes, there was a phrase about the promotional video with our Olympic champions Anna Chicherova and Mariya Savinova. It’s natural – to display the country’s brightest stars in this kind of promotions. There is no doubt that the appearance of Usain Bolt in any kind of promotional activities would boost the level of public attention. However, we still prefer to have the Russian stars as the poster persons of the event held in Moscow. But the joke about the world record holder being too costly for us was interpreted by some journalists as a complaint about excessive financial appetites of the Jamaican star. And this made the athlete’s management reasonably puzzled.
Have you already sorted out this misunderstanding?
I apologized to Usain himself about this odd situation, which caused some absurd insinuations in foreign media. Ricky Simms told me that Bolt is ready to cooperate with us in future. And that was it, the problem was solved. Usain is going to compete in Moscow, he has recently announced it. The importance of his participation can’t be overestimated, both for the event and for athletics in whole. He will receive the warmest welcome in our city. By the way, the words “expensive” and “valuable” (or “dear”) in the Russian language are the same.