IAAF's Diamond League changes provoke predictable Twitter storm
Athletics - 12 Mar 2019
The IAAF, athletics’ world governing body, has run into predictable opposition over its plans to reduce the number and duration of events in its top-tier annual Diamond League series, with critics focusing in particular on the elimination of 5,000 and 10,000 metres races, plus the knock-on effects of reducing the duration of the meetings from two hours to 90 minutes.
Responses on the IAAF’s Diamond League Twitter feed included:
• “Longest distance 3000m? I think you've misunderstood your audience";
• “I don't think you actually listen to the athletes or fans, we been asking for more not less. I'm just tired of the current @iaaforg because nothing is actually about the sport";
• “I don’t understand why we are just down to 12 DL meets and we’ve cut events too .. we want to increase public interest and awareness YET we are showing less... I believe we needed more meets to invest in depth of talent at highest level! Creating opportunity creates excitement!”;
• “Arguably the biggest movement in the world at the moment is parkrun. Why the IAAF would drop the 5k when it has never been more popular makes no sense at all.”
The IAAF announced yesterday that the number of Diamond League meetings will be reduced from 14 this season to 12 in 2020, plus an end-of-season final, while the number of disciplines will be reduced from 32 to 24 (12 male and 12 female), with the longest distance for runners being 3000 metres.
The goal of the review, the IAAF said, was to “bring together the very best one day meetings in a high quality annual international circuit which gives athletes a compelling and rewarding reason to compete; a more consistent, action packed format for broadcasters and provides fans with a persuasive reason to come back to the sport week in and week out to follow the star athletes as they gain points to qualify for an exciting end of season final.”
The IAAF added that a set of evaluation criteria introduced in 2018 will be used at the end of the 2019 season to assess the quality of each meeting “with the aim of focusing the IAAF Diamond League on the very best 12 meetings going forward with one end-of-season final.
“Each meeting will be broadcast globally in a faster-paced 90-minute television event which will link the events and the athletes’ points so fans can more readily follow the road to a single final at the end of the season.”
Dropping meetings from the series is also certain to be controversial, albeit relegated meetings will be offered compensation.
Sebastian Coe, the IAAF’s president, said: “The IAAF Diamond League is the way millions of sports fans engage with athletics on a top level every year. It is a strong circuit that is celebrating its 10th year but we can make it even stronger and more relevant to the world our athletes and our fans live in today.
“Change is never easy but should, wherever possible, be done from a position of strength which is what we have done.”