Proposed changes to the Diamond League that will knock out long distance races like 5,000m starting next year will be a major blow to Africa and athletics in general, Athletics Kenya (AK) President Jackson Tuwei said on Tuesday.
Tuwei said that AK will send a strong protest to the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), besides marshalling support from the rest of Africa to halt the changes.
The 5,000m race is among events that have been scrapped after the IAAF made some sweeping changes in the Diamond League starting next year at its Council meeting in Doha on Monday.
The Diamond League will now have reduced meetings from 14 to 12 besides 24 disciplines, a reduction from the 32 with the longest distance being 3,000m.
“Long distance races on track is where Africa’s strength is and we have been encouraging and getting more athletes to run 5,000m and 10,000m races,” said Tuwei in a telephone interview.
“As much as we want to make changes, we need to be broad in our thinking.”
Tuwei said making the changes without broad consultations is tantamount to dictating things, hence not good for athletics.
“You can’t come up with such drastic changes without even informing members on time to make adjustments,” said Tuwei. “We shall make our presentation to IAAF.”
Tuwei said that they have been encouraging athletes to take on track events and the move my IAAF will send most of the athletes to road running.
“This is not a good show for athletics. We should be striving to promote track races,” said Tuwei, who promised to discuss the issue during the Confederation of Africa Athletics (CAA) meeting next month in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire.
The IAAF noted in a statement after a Council session in Doha on Monday that the evaluation criteria introduced in 2018 will be used at the end of the season to assess the quality of each meeting.
“This is with the aim of focusing the IAAF Diamond League on the very best 12 meetings going forward with one end-of-season finale,” IAAF President Sebastian Coe said in a statement.
“Change is never easy but should, wherever possible, be done from a position of strength which is what we have done,” stated Coe.
Currently there are 14 events in the Diamond League Series that include the two finals that are held in the last two events in Zurich and Brussels.
The IAAF Council passed that there will be 24 disciplines; 12 male and 12 female that will form the core disciplines at all 12 meetings that will develop an enhanced single final event which features all core 24 disciplines.
The IAAF also want to focus on innovation around out-of-stadium and the city centres where field events will be held so that fans can get closer to the action.
The IAAF will work with their Rights Holding and Host Broadcasters on a faster paced 90-minute television event that will link the 12 events and the athlete’s points so fans can easily follow the road to a single final at the end of the season.
The global athletics body will also review the World Rankings process and reformed Global Calendar to support and protect the circuit so that the world’s top athletes have the incentive to compete more regularly which we know our fans want more than anything else.
“Create a tiered prize money system that provides more reward for athletes and greater clarity on potential earnings across the season,” added the IAAF boss.
“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.”