LONDON (Reuters) - Double Olympic champion Sebastian Coe unveiled the manifesto behind his campaign to become head of world athletics on Wednesday, pledging a calendar and prize money revamp and innovative competitions to bring back fans.
Launching his bid to become president of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), the man who successfully delivered the London 2012 Olympic Games said athletes should also enjoy greater commercial opportunities, with an overhaul of the prize money structure.
“The proposals that I am unveiling today are designed to increase the reach and appeal of athletics in a world that is rapidly changing,” Coe said at the launch event in central London.
“It is essential that we 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.”
Coe said the athletics calendar urgently needed to be redrawn to make it more exciting.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
He said the presentation of events in the stadiums and on television should change to make them more attractive, while also integrating athletics competitions into inner cities to increase their reach beyond the stadium.
“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,” said Coe, who won the 1500 metres titles at the 1980 and 1984 Olympics during a golden period for the sport in Britain.
He said prize money structures were dated and should also change for the benefit of athletes.
Coe, an IAAF vice president since 2007, is so far the only candidate to succeed Senegalese Lamine Diack next year, but is likely to face opposition from Ukrainian former pole vault champion Sergey Bubka, a fellow vice-president.
“I want this election campaign to open up the discussion, to encourage voices to be heard,” he said.
“Yes there are challenges but I also know there is the spirit, will and the talent within our sport to meet them.”
Editing by Ossian Shine and Ken Ferris