IAAF cuts disciplines from Diamond League to heighten broadcast appeal

Noah Lyles of USA wins the Men's 200m Final during the 2019 Diamond League Memorial Van Damme in Brussels (by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has axed eight disciplines from the core programme for the 2020 Diamond League as part of ongoing efforts to create a “faster-paced, more exciting” global series.

The decision follows the results of the largest consumer survey into the disciplines hosted in the Diamond League. Representative online research carried out in China, France, South Africa and the USA; post event surveys in Belgium, Great Britain and Switzerland and click-throughs on Diamond League social media videos during 2019 helped guide the Diamond League General Assembly to decide which disciplines will be part of the 2020 season.

As a result of the research, and the decision taken earlier in the year that only 12 male and 12 female disciplines will form the core group at all meetings, four male and female disciplines will not be contested.

These are the discus throw, triple jump and 3,000m steeplechase – three events that currently sit towards the bottom of the research conducted – and the 200m. The latter discipline ranked fourth – behind 100m, long jump, high jump and pole vault – in terms of popularity, but has been dropped as League organisers felt its inclusion alongside the 100m would congest the schedule, particularly in an Olympic Games’ year.

Following a detailed review of the schedule for the 90-minute broadcast window of the Diamond League both the 200m and the 3000m steeplechase will be included in 10 meetings during the 2020 season, including Oslo, Rome, and Doha. Two meetings will also feature discus and triple jump. However, none of the four disciplines will feature in the Diamond League Final in 2020.

The announcement has led to criticism from certain athletes on social media, but IAAF president and Diamond League chairman, Sebastian Coe, said: “Our objective is to create a faster-paced, more exciting global league that will be the showcase for our sport. A league that broadcasters want to show and fans want to watch.

“However, we understand the disappointment of those athletes in the disciplines not part of the 2020 Diamond League season. We want to thank the 10 Diamond League meetings which have found a way to include the 200m or the 3,000m steeplechase (male and female) during the 2020 season and the four meetings hosting a discus throw competition or a triple jump competition.

“The Continental Tour, an enhanced global series of one day meetings supporting the Diamond League, will integrate these eight disciplines to ensure athletes get opportunities to compete extensively and earn prize money. We will also work more closely with the athletes in these eight disciplines to help promote them and their events.”

The highest scoring athlete in each of the eight dropped disciplines will also win a wild card into the World Championships. All disciplines will be reviewed at the end of the 2020 Diamond League season.

The IAAF stressed all meetings also have the opportunity to feature additional disciplines outside the 90-minute international broadcast window to cater to their domestic fans and athletics, which will be carried by domestic broadcasters. All meetings, including the final in Zurich, are also looking at innovation around disciplines that can be taken into city centres to attract new fans to the sport.

The announcement comes after the IAAF last month revised a plan announced earlier this year to cut the number of Diamond League events in 2020, instead launching the new second-tier Continental Tour and adding an extra meet in China. The plan to limit Diamond League broadcasts to 90 minutes remained in place.

In September, the IAAF signed a 10-year international media-rights agreement with the Infront agency, which includes the sale of international rights to the Diamond League, from 2025.