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Coe to focus on growth of sport in second term

Track and field’s world governing body announces partnership with Chinese conglomerate.
17th Iaaf World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 Previews
Sebastian Coe is re-elected president of the International Association of Athletics Federations. Photo: Getty Images for the IAAF

Sebastian Coe, who was re-elected unopposed as the IAAF president for a second term in Doha on Wednesday, said his focus now onwards would be on driving change in the way the sport is organised, bringing in innovations to boost its growth.

Addressing the media after the IAAF Council elections, the former Olympic champion said he was happy to have achieved what he had promised when he was elected first in 2015.

“It’s been a tough four years. The first two years were about reforms, the second two about its implementation. I’m pleased to have reached where we’re today after implementing what we had promised,” he said.

The Briton made it clear that his main focus would be on the sport’s growth during his second term.

“We’ve to grow the sport, we know we’ve to reach out far and wide, we’ve to form partnerships at every level, we’ve to be able to place the sport also as a service provider for government agendas on making people more active,” he said.

17th Iaaf World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 Previews
IAAF President Sebastian Coe with Sergey Bubka, who was re-elected vice president of the sport’s governing body. Photo: Getty Images for the IAAF

Coe said though these were part of his original plan, but the IAAF had to take a detour as they faced several challenges, including allegations of corruption and the Russian doping scandal.

“We had to take a detour, but we’re much safer and secure than we’ve ever been. The reforms are in place. But we do need a culture shift in sport also.

“There is lot and lot of work to be done in the next four years. But I hope four years from now when we sit here, we’re looking back at the same level of delivery that we’ve in the first four years, but focused on the field of play,” he said.

“I don’t want the next four years to be about Russia,” he added.

Coe also reiterated IAAF’s stance on corruption and fight against doping, pointing to the establishment of the Athletics Integrity Unit as a major step against malpractices.

The two-time Olympic 1500M champion said the IAAF was committed to creating a level-playing field when it came to DSD (Differences in Sexual Development) athletes.

“I don’t genuinely believe one or two issues are big enough to overshadow the progress of sport. These issues will come from time to come, we’ve to deal with it.

“We’ve created a pathway when it comes to DSD athletes. We’ve to protect that so-called level-playing field and I’m sure we’ve done that,” he said.

Meanwhile, the IAAF got a shot in the arm with the global body announcing a ‘landmark’ deal with Chinese conglomerate Wanda Group.

Revealing details of the deal, Coe said Wanda Group would become the title-sponsor of the Diamond League for 10 years from 2020.

Wanda also signed a five-year deal with the IAAF and the Diamond League for international media rights.

The partnership also includes a 10-year media rights agreement for the IAAF’s second international tour – a series of one-day meetings around the world to be launched in 2020.

Though no figures were revealed, Coe said it was the biggest commercial partnership in the history of athletics. As per the deal, Wanda also gets the right to co-host the annual IAAF Gala in China.