Youhuu, a native Hungarian Racka sheep, has been selected as the mascot for the 2023 World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary, and was unveiled to the public at a press event to celebrate 100 days to go to the World Championships.
Jon Ridgeon, CEO of World Athletics, rang a bell to reveal the much-anticipated mascot in Budapest’s newly-completed National Athletics Centre.
More than 1100 years ago, the Racka sheep arrived in Hungary with the settling Hungarians and has remained a faithful companion ever since. Sheep can be found all over the world, but the distinctive racka breed is only found where Hungarians live.
In particular, there were once many racka sheep in the area where the National Athletics Centre now stands and where, in exactly 100 days’ time, the starting pistol will be fired for the biggest sporting event in Hungary’s history.
Youhuu is an everyday hero who is inspired by the World Athletics Championships to take up sport and loves athletics. As the chief cheerleader, he will be an essential part of the event before and during the World Championships, sometimes sweet, sometimes cheeky, but always fun.
Ridgeon also presented the organisers with the official certification of the National Athletics Centre, formally declaring that it is ready to host the World Championships.
“We have just completed what we call our ‘readiness site visit’,” he said. “This is a big milestone as it means we are now running down the home straight. We are delighted with the progress. The Organising Committee is a skilled and experienced team, and they have created strong partnerships with key delivery stakeholders across Budapest and Hungary, including transport, security, tourism, hotels and many, many more.
“There are still thousands of little decisions and connections to be made, but I am confident that the team and their partners and stakeholders will deliver an exceptional event in 100 days’ time here in this beautiful city of Budapest. Whilst the competition starts in 100 days, around 2000 athletes from 200 countries, 1500 broadcasters, and 2500 volunteers will be arriving in Budapest up to one month before the Opening Ceremony. We know they will all receive a warm Hungarian welcome from our hosts.”
“100 days before the start of the World Championships, the Local Organising Committee has reached the home straight, meaning that all the plans are in place to show that Hungary is capable of hosting the world’s third biggest sporting event to an outstanding standard,” said Balázs Németh, CEO of the organiser Budapest 2023 Zrt. “More than 10,000 people will be working between 19 and 27 August to impress the more than 2000 competitors from more than 200 countries participating in the World Championships, as well as the hundreds of thousands of spectators and the one billion TV viewers around the world,” he added.
“With 160,000 tickets already sold for the World Championships, our aim to move the country, encourage the masses to get moving, and promote athletics and a sporty, healthy lifestyle, is clearly being achieved,” said Ádám Schmidt, State Secretary and Government Commissioner for the World Athletics Championships. “Hundreds of thousands of people will be able to witness the wonder of Hungarian athletes and the world’s best athletes competing at the brand new National Athletics Centre, and this event and this facility together will be a huge step towards turning us from a sports nation into a true sporting nation.”
“In the last seven years, Hungary and Budapest have established themselves as a global sports capital that has proven its high capability of organising the world’s biggest sporting events starting from the 2017 and 2022 World Aquatics Championships through the World Judo Championships and World Fencing Championships or the UEFA Euro 2020 Championship just to name a few,” said Balázs Fürjes, co-chair of the 2023 World Athletics Championships governing body. “However, the World Athletics Championships will be the biggest event in Hungary’s history. Budapest is in the heart of Europe, very accessible from everywhere. It’s a mid-size global city, very compact, and everything is within arm’s reach. The culture is vibrant and we are a sport-loving nation. Budapest is good value for money and a very safe and secure destination. Budapest is meant to be the host city of major international events. We are honoured that World Athletics chose Hungary and Central Europe for the first time in history. Our country will perform and honour this trust again. Hungary will perform and honour this trust again.”
“The World Championships are a unique and unrepeatable opportunity for Hungarian athletics, and we are preparing accordingly, as we can already see that a record number of Hungarian athletes are qualifying for the World Championships, which is a great achievement in a sport where more countries compete than the total number of UN members,” said Miklós Gyulai, President of the Hungarian Athletics Association. He also confirmed that the biggest stars were in excellent form, so those who come out to cheer them on at the National Athletics Centre can expect to witness outstanding performances.
The press event held on the occasion of the 100 days to go milestone was also attended by Petra Farkas, Hungary’s European U23 long jump champion, who asked all sports-loving fans to buy tickets and visit the World Athletics Championships. Hungarian fans, in particular, will have the unique opportunity to see their athletics team perform at home on a world stage.
“There will be finals every night, and there will be all your favourites to cheer for, and they will be given a huge boost by the crowd to perform at an even higher level,” Farkas said.
The World Athletics Championships Budapest 23 will take place between 19 and 27 August at the brand new National Athletics Centre. Road races will be held around Budapest’s historic UNESCO World Heritage sites. Tickets are available at tickets.wabudapest23.com.