Sports venue Omnisport in Apeldoorn undergoes metamorphosis for European Athletics Indoor Championships 2025

Multi-Purpose sports complex Omnisport will undergo a major metamorphosis next year in the weeks between the various National Indoor Championships and the European Athletics Indoor Championships 2025 from 6 to 9 March. On 6 March, exactly one year before the European Indoor Championships, former Dutch world sprint champion Dafne Schippers was introduced as tournament director. But there is more to tell about the event. Although most of the plans for the event are all set, there is still a lot of work to be done.

The allocation of this European tournament has created a lot of excitement in the Apeldoorn region and certainly also at the Dutch Athletics Federation. The outstanding results of the Dutch athletes at the World Athletics Indoor Championships in Glasgow then came on top! So, it came as no surprise that the most popular sessions of the European Championships were sold out straight away.

Omnisport can accommodate around 5,000 spectators during next year’s European Championships, says project manager Amy Kortbeek, who is closely involved in the preparations on behalf of the Dutch Athletics Federation together with Noor van der Lugt (TIG Sports). However, tickets cannot be sold for all the seats. Part of the grandstand will be reserved for the athletes and their coaches, the media and invited guests.

To accommodate everyone, Omnisport will have to make major adjustments. For example, additional grandstands will be built above the cycling track along the straight side of the track. This will not only increase the capacity, but also the atmosphere in the hall, as spectators will be very close to the track.

An extra stand will be built for the press, which will act as a kind of platform overlooking the track, giving them the opportunity to interview the athletes after their performances.

During the Nationals next year, the hall and stands will be the same as they are now. After that, we will have two weeks to build the extra stands,’ Kortbeek said.

But there is still work to be done. The track at Omnisport will get a new Mondo surface with different, brighter colours. ‘We would have preferred to do this re-topping this year,’ Kortbeek says. But for a number of reasons that was not possible. Now it is getting a bit exciting, but we can assume that everything will be taken care of on time. At the various Dutch Championships in Apeldoorn, a modest hall under the main grandstand and a narrow circular track are used as warm-up area. However, this will not be big enough for the European Championships where 750 athletes from 49 countries are expected to take part. The Omnisport volleyball hall will therefore be used for this purpose. This will include a 60-metre running track of the same type as the one installed in the competition hall. The 750 participating athletes and the 450 support staff – coaches, physiotherapists and others – will be accommodated in six hotels in and around Apeldoorn. Hotel Papendal in Arnhem, which is located near Olympic Training Centre Papendal, the largest elite sports training centre in the Netherlands, is one of them.

All plans have been drawn up in collaboration with TIG Sports and there have been extensive consultations with the colleagues of European Athletics ahead of the allocation on 6 May 2022. The contacts are excellent,” says Kortbeek. She does not know the exact reasons why the Netherlands was chosen to host the tournament. The Dutch Athletics Federation visited European Athletics three times during this period to explain their plans to the Council. “The Dutch successes definitely played a role. Athletics is popular at the moment.” The successful European Championships hosted by the Netherlands in the recent past – the 2016 European Athletics Championships in Amsterdam and the 2018 European Cross Country Championships in Tilburg – will also have played a role. One of the new features is that the first day of the championships – Thursday 6 March 2025 – will feature a full programme, including the final of the new 4x400m mixed relays.

The Dutch Athletics Federation and TIG Sports work for Apeldoorn with quite a tight and challenging budget. Major contributions come from the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sports, the Province of Gelderland and the Municipality of Apeldoorn. Discussions with potential commercial partners are ongoing. Another important partner is the local athletic club AV’34. This club provides many volunteers. A special team of technical officials has also been formed, which has now started preparations under the capable guidance of International Technical Official (ITO) Niels van der Aar. At this year’s Indoor Nationals, for example, these officials have already worked according to the guidelines for the European Championships.

For the country, province and the city of Apeldoorn, the European Athletics Indoor Championships are not just about top-class sport. The event has been given the motto ‘Moving People’, which means that the event will be used to get people moving. A Social Activation Programme is being developed. This will include all kinds of side events for primary schools and businesses. Athletics clubs will be explicitly involved, as especially sports clubs can ensure connection and sustainability through memberships.

“I am happy to dedicate myself to the task of getting people moving, as there really is a lot of room for improvement,” tournament director Dafne Schippers has already promised.

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