The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has approved reforms to its Diamond League series from 2020 onwards.
The IAAF Council agreed to the core principles in a set of reforms discussed two weeks earlier by the Diamond League Board and the directors of the different athletics meetings.
The IAAF is at pains to simplify the narrative across the athletics season and create a faster-paced product for television. Under the reforms, the IAAF Diamond League will consist of 12 meetings leading to a final, a reduction of one meeting from the previous calendar. The meetings will feature 24 athletics disciplines (12 male and 12 female), a reduction from the previous 32, while the maximum track event distance will be reduced from 5,000 metres to 3,000 metres.
The television window for each meeting will be reduced from 120 minutes to 90-minutes to create a faster-paced product, while the competing athletes’ points will be added up across the course of the season to create more of a narrative. The athletes with the most points will qualify for the season-ending final.
The changes are the result of a year-long review, which included detailed research and discussions with athletes, coaches, fans and broadcasters. The IAAF says the new series aims to provide athletes with the chance to compete in a high-quality international circuit of the world’s best one-day meetings and will provide audiences with a more compelling television product.
“The IAAF Diamond League is the way millions of sports fans engage with athletics on a top level every year. It is a strong circuit that is celebrating its 10th year but we can make it even stronger and more relevant to the world our athletes and our fans live in today,” said IAAF president Sebastian Coe.
In an interview with SportBusiness in 2017, Coe complained that there was little rhyme or reason to the Diamond League season, which often fails to feature the world’s leading athletes and jumps from one country to another without a sense of an overriding narrative. He also likened the international federation’s premier event, the IAAF World Championships to ‘a car boot sale’, arguing that it needed to introduce shorter, tighter sessions to keep audiences interested.
Beyond changes to the competition format, the IAAF said the new-look series will also look to take more of the sporting competition out of the stadium. This could include city-centre field events to bring fans closer to the action.
It will also look to review the World Rankings process and create a tiered prize money system to incentivise the world’s leading athletes to compete more regularly and give them greater clarity about their potential earnings across a season.
The IAAF said further refinement of the disciplines, meetings, points structure and the single final will be agreed in the course of 2019.