Proposals unveiled by the British middle-distance legend designed to “increase the reach and appeal of athletics in a world that is rapidly changing”
Seb Coe has outlined his vision for athletics in his International Association of Athletics Federations presidential campaign manifesto entitled Growing Athletics in a New Age.
The British middle-distance legend, who is currently a vice president of the sport’s world governing body, last week confirmed his intention to run to succeed Lamine Diack and on Wednesday unveiled his manifesto at the British Olympic Association offices.
In his manifesto, Coe details an action plan that promises to breathe fresh life into the sport and outlines four “key pillars”:
» Embracing change to secure a better future
World Athletics calendar reform, sports presentation changes, city centre competitions and tailored development programmes
» Decentralisation and empowerment
A more devolved system of support for member federations, reviewing the role of IAAF regional development centres, building university partnerships, ensuring a greater voice for athletes in the IAAF and reviewing IAAF internal structures
» Maximising commercial growth
A focus on youth engagement, restructuring the IAAF commercial department and ensuring greater commercial opportunities for athletes
» Ensuring integrity and trust in everything we do
Increasing anti-doping and integrity resources, creating a new IAAF ethics department and supporting the independence of all member federations
“The vision and proposals that I am unveiling today are designed to increase the reach and appeal of athletics in a world that is rapidly changing,” said Coe, pictured above at this year’s World Athletics Gala in Monaco.
“I believe that it is essential that we open up a real debate and take a long hard look at the ‘product’ of athletics if we aim to attract more young people into our sport and drive increased participation and income.”
He added: “We must be ready to be creative, take action and embrace change.”
On his proposal of a calendar reform, Coe commented: “To many within and outside our sport, our calendar seems disjointed, lacks a narrative and the essential glue to build excitement and a loyal and passionate following.
“Many fans don’t know when the athletics season starts, when it ends, why it seems to bounce around from the USA to Europe to Asia and back again. A harmonised calendar is the key to promotion, marketing, the athletes and member federation development and we must address this.”
The two-time Olympic gold medallist also spoke more about the idea of a series of street athletics events, explaining: “We need to be more innovative in how we project and present our sport to the world, both in venue and on screen, give serious consideration to an ‘IAAF Street Athletics’ circuit to help reach new audiences, and create a new IAAF division that has the sole purpose of focussing on youth engagement, especially via social media.”
Not surprisingly, there is also a strong emphasis on the war on drugs, with plans to crank up the anti-doping effort and to create an IAAF ethics department.
Coe, who is expected to face competition for IAAF presidency from Ukraine’s pole vault great Sergey Bubka, continued: “Ensuring the integrity of athletics and the IAAF is also crucial if we are to win and maintain the trust of fans and all our partners, and that is why I will ensure increased resources are invested into this critical area.
“It is also important that we have a more devolved and targeted system of support for member federations that better reflects local needs so that a greater pool and spread of world class athletes can develop across the globe. Over the next decade we can, and must, grow the number of nations achieving IAAF World Championship finalist status from 60 to 100.
“I want the discussion on these issues to flourish in the weeks and months ahead and I am convinced that by working with this vision and in true partnership with member federations, our sport can embark on an exciting new era of global growth. Our aspiration has to be to see more young people become athletes, more people watching and consuming our sport and greater revenues flowing into the athletics family.”
On Monday Bubka announced via his Twitter account that he will make his own plans public “in due time”. He also extended his congratulations to Coe on his announcement.
Coe’s manifesto Growing Athletics in a New Age can be downloaded from www.sebcoe2015.org.
The race for IAAF presidency will conclude in August next year at IAAF Congress in Beijing.
» You can read more on Seb Coe’s IAAF presidential campaign manifesto in a News Focus feature in this week’s Athletics Weekly magazine, which is available digitally here now or on newsstands from Thursday December 4