The Beirut Marathon Association held a press conference to launch the ninth edition of the BLOM Beirut Marathon with the slogan “Take it to the Street”. The press conference was under the patronage of Lebanese Minister of Youth and Sport Mr. Faisal Karame who was represented at the event by Mr. Zeid Khyameh the General Director of the Ministry.
This launching event took place at Mike Sport in the Dora area and was attended by many official dignitaries, representatives of sports organizations, and NGO’s.
Among the dignitaries present was Mr. Michel deShadrafian representing president Michel Aoun, Minister of tourism Mr. Fadi Abboud, Mr. Mohammad Kaddouh representing the Minister of Social Affairs Wael Abou Faour, Mrs. Mona Elias El Hrawi, Spanish Ambassador Juan Carlos Cavo, Mr. Khalil Shoukair representing Beirut Municipality chairman of the board Dr. Bilal Hamad, CEO of BLOM Beirut Mr. Saad Azhari, Chairman of the Olympic committee Mr. Azza Koraitem, Mir Abdallah Shehab, along with sponsors, partners, Beirut Marathon association coordinators and members of the press.
Mr. Samir Saliba, owner of Mike Sport the hosting venue, welcomed all and after the national anthem, Mr. Hassan Mohieddine introduced the BMA President Mrs. May El Khalil who in turn welcomed all the attendees and spoke about the challenges and the triumphs of the Beirut Marathon Association. Mrs. El Khalil talked about the achievements of the past year, and specifically about the Bronze label standing that the BLOM Beirut Marathon was awarded by the IAAF.
She also discussed some of the logistical and organizational changes that will be taking place in this year’s event.
Mr. Saad Azhari CEO of BLOM Bank, the Title sponsor of the event, said that the BLOM Beirut Marathon has become the most important cultural and sporting event in Lebanon. He expressed the pride that BLOM Bank takes in sponsoring this event and that the cooperation promises to be a longstanding one. He also introduced the BLOM Beirut Charities program that will benefit 42 different causes under the title: “42 reasons to run”.
Mr. Khalil Shoukair then spoke on behalf of the Municipality of Beirut commending the efforts of the Beirut Marathon Association and its role in creating a positive vibrant image for the capital.
Mir Abdallah Shehab then talked about the importance of the IAAF Bronze label for the race this year and about the high logistical and organizational standards of the race. He also stressed the importance of keeping cooperation with the association in order to encourage new generations of athletes in Lebanon.
The last speech was given by Mr. Zeid Khyameh the General Director of the Ministry of youth and sport. Mr. Khyameh said that the Beirut Marathon Association has created a sports culture and has made Beirut, in addition to being a hub for literature, arts, and culture, a sporting destination for athletes from the region and the world. Mr. Khyameh also spoke of the campaign slogan saying: “the invitation to “take it to the street” to run and compete is the antidote to invitations to take conflict to the street. The invitation to take it to the street and run means that we are all Beirut, we are all Lebanon.”
The BMA Training program coordinator Mariam Haidar introduced Gatorade as the new sponsor of the program, and also introduced all the coaches who will be training runners for the big race.
The main campaign TVC, which will begin airing on all television stations, was shown during the press conference in addition to a short documentary about the accomplishments of the BMA over this past year. The event also included some very energetic performances by athletes and dancers.
At the end of the press conference guests were treated to a cocktail catered by Socrate, and Mike Sport distributed goodie bags and T-shirts to all attendees.