Under-fire World Athletics launches second-tier ‘Continental Tour’

The ten-stop second-tier circuit, called the Continental Tour, will include individual events controversially dropped from the elite Diamond League.

The World Athletics's decision to shorten Diamond League meetings to offer broadcasters a 90-minute concentrated programme caused outrage among athletes. (representative image)   -  REUTERS

World Athletics on Saturday launched a 10-stop second-tier circuit, called the “Continental Tour”, which will include individual events controversially dropped from the elite Diamond League.

The decision to shorten Diamond League meetings to offer broadcasters a 90-minute concentrated programme caused outrage among athletes.

The four latest disciplines to be put on the sidelines do not completely disappear.

The 200 metres and 3,000 metre steeplechase will each appear on the menu at 10 of the 15 Diamond League meets, raced five times each by the men and the women, while the triple jump and discus throw will appear twice each with one men’s and one women’s competition.

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Nevertheless, athletes are furious, seeing a lack of respect with significant consequences for their income.

A group of American athletes wrote to World Athletics, formerly the IAAF, to complain that its decisions were “typically made with minimal input from the athletes“.

Frenchman Kevin Mayer, the decathlon world record holder lamented that athletics was “a slave to TV“.

The president of World Athletics, Sebastian Coe, said the sport needed to be more “dynamic“.

“Our objective is to create a faster-paced, more exciting global league that will be the showcase for our sport,” Coe said.

“A league that broadcasters want to show and fans want to watch. However, we understand the disappointment of those athletes in the disciplines not part of the 2020 Diamond League season.”

The Continental Tour addressed some of those concerns, Coe said, and would integrate the discarded disciplines “to ensure athletes get opportunities to compete extensively and earn prize money“.

The new tour takes the place of World Challenge meetings in addition to the four disciplines trimmed from next year’s Diamond League programme will also include the hammer throw, which was dropped earlier.

World Athletics has scheduled nine meetings: Tokyo, Nanjing in China, Ostrava in the Czech Republic, Hengelo in the Netherlands, Turku in Finland, Kingston in Jamaica, Szekesfehervar in Hungary, the Silesia region in Poland and Zagreb, Croatia. They hope to add the 10th in Africa.

“It’s about supporting one-day meetings and creating more opportunities for them, more opportunities for athletes to earn a living and collect points for the world ranking,” said World Athletics executive director Jon Ridgeon.

The winner in these five events at each meeting will win $6,000 compared to $10,000 for winning an event in a Diamond League meeting. The first prize in other events at each meeting will be $3,000.