AAA plans to overhaul Asian GP

AAA president Dahlan Al Hamad said the body was trying to upgrade the Asian Grand Prix to a World Challenge-level and also hinted that it could soon be open to athletes from other continents too.

In a new record, 44 of the 45 Asian countries will be in action at the Bhubaneswar Asians.   -  Biswaranjan Rout

The Asian Athletics Association (AAA) plans to overhaul its Asian Grand Prix series to make it stronger and attractive.

“We are reviewing the Asian GP, we are working to see how we can upgrade it to a World Challenge-level,” said the AAA president, Dahlan Al Hamad at the end of the association’s 22nd Congress here on Wednesday.

“We are also trying to ensure that it does not clash with European events, so that we have some of our best athletes competing in our series.”

Dahlan, from Qatar, also hinted that the Asian GP could soon be open to athletes from other continents too.

With many of the continent’s top stars, including Qatar’s high jump world leader Mutaz Essa Barshim, Bahrain’s women’s steeple-chase Olympic champion Ruth Jebet and China’s women’s javelin throw Asian record holder Liu Shiying skipping the Asians, Dahlan said the AAA has been working on finding a solution to the problem.

“All athletes are controlled by the IAAF competition rules and it offers them the freedom to compete where they want. But if the continent’s best athletes don’t participate, then the championship gets downgraded, the product value also goes down.”

Forty four of the 45 Asian countries will be in action at the Bhubaneswar Asians. “That’s a record number. Only Turkmenistan is skipping the championships and that could be because it is hosting Asian Indoor Games this year, so probably it is focusing on that,” said the AAA chief.