Sebastian Coe has called for alterations to be made to the global athletics calendar and claimed taking the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) World Championships to Africa within the next decade would be a priority, while his rival for the Presidency Sergey Bubka has called for the sport to embrace technology and believes they must promote their athletes better.
The two men, currently IAAF vice-presidents, were speaking today ahead of the first IAAF Diamond League event of the season here today, as they continue their campaigns to succeed Senegal’s Lamine Diack.
Britain's double Olympic 1500 metres gold medallist Coe has pledged to establish at World Athletics Calendar Reform and Sports Presentation group which would make recommendations to alter the existing athletics calendar at IAAF Special Congress in the first quarter of 2016, should he be announced as the new President at the election in Beijing on August 19
Coe also vowed to further spread athletics reach across the world, opening up the possibility of an African nation hosting the World Championships for the first time, claiming that such an event would leave lasting positive impact on athletics within the host country.
“We do have to build global capacities, but you have to do it in a sequential way and the World Athletics Championships going to Africa in the next decade has to be one of the priorities,” Coe said.
“We can’t sit there and say that we are a global sport and have the extraordinary contribution, certainly in the last 30 years from African athletes, particularly in middle and long distance events and not have a World Championships there or a Diamond League.
“I am passionate about getting a World Championships to Africa, I want the world of my sport to reflect the world I live in, but there has to be more to it than me saying that is what we need to do.
“We have to plan and make sure that no Championships should leave a country and not impact dramatically on track and field.
Coe, whose manifesto is titled Growing Athletics in a New Age, also spoke of the importance of cross-country as an important discipline to develop future middle and long distance runners and could seek to help the discipline thrive by potentially setting up an international circuit should he be elected, while again suggesting it could have a place on the Winter Olympics sport programme.
“One of the ideas that I have played with is that we create almost a Diamond League of cross country and it is probably best done in its infancy by selecting six or seven countries and agreeing to create that circuit,” he said.
“If you are part of that circuit agreeing to stage within that twelve year cycle a cross country World Championship once, as we do find it difficult to get countries to take that on.”
“I would like to see cross country back in the Olympic programme and it could go into the Winter Games programme.”
Ukrainian rival for the role Sergey Bubka, meanwhile, reiterated his belief outlined in his manifesto, Taking Athletics To New Heights, that under his leadership the IAAF would look closely at making track and field more attractive to athletes, broadcasters and fans in a bid to further athletics.
Changes would follow a review process, entitled Vision 2025, in which a series of newly established working groups would report to an Extraordinary Athletics Congress with possible recommendations.
“If we speak about our World Championships as an example, this is our product, how do we make it more attractive,” said Bubka, who is also a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
“We need to use technology and when the races are going on, provide information and make decisions on the position of cameras, what will be the evening programme and how can you catch all the finals.
“We also need to go deep to our World Championships and do we decide to stay nine days or do eight, seven, ten, eleven days and for me it would be open and we would need to have discussions with broadcasters about what they expect.”
Additionally, Bubka called for improved promotion of the sport’s champions, via social media and athlete stories, which he believes would help to engage and drive youth people to become involved with athletics, either in a competitive level or as part of a healthy lifestyle.
“We have 47 world champions and must, from the IAAF side, present our heroes and champions," he said.
“We must work with them on how to present themselves, how they can be more successful, be more motivated and get more sponsors.
“Also we need to help them become knowledgeable and attractive personalities and I would like as much as possible for them to link with and give something back to society.”
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April 2015: Business commission, increased grants for Federations and tracks for all are key ideas as Bubka launches IAAF Presidential manifesto
April 2015: Coe promises to embrace E-learning if elected IAAF President as Bubka prepares to publish manifesto