Athletics tries to overcome it’s latest hurdle
I see the IAAF have reorganised the track and field calendar for 2005 in an attempt to increase the high quality of competition. The sport certainly needs something to get the public back on side. There have been a number of high-profile drugs cases in the sport recently and many instances of medals from major championships being retrospectively awarded to other athletes following doping admissions. It’s hard for fans of the sport to keep up and the lack of any real superstars within the sport make it a hard sell for TV compaines who are seeing audiences reducing year on year.
The five most important economic nations are Britain, Germany, Italy, Spain and France. Between them, they provide the foundation for 80 per cent of the contract with the European Broadcasting Union, which feeds the sport its biggest income. For television interest to be maintained, successful European athletes are essential; as Europe is the hub of the circuit, without them in greater numbers, stability is at risk. Overall television viewing figures are down. Furthermore, the circuit, with the exception of the Golden League and its $1m (about £560,000) jackpot, comprises a series of disjointed events, culminating in the insignificant World Athletics Final.
I don’t think that reducing the number of events will have a perceptible increase in interest from the general public – what is really needed is a ‘face’ for athletics, to attract the younger audience, but with the Olympic Games the only event to capture the imagination of the wider public it is going to be a long hard road for the IAAF to get athletics back on track.
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