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Larsen to drive World Athletics’ global calendar plans

World Athletics has appointed Danish Athletic Federation (DAF) chief executive Jakob Larsen as its director of competition and events, a role in which he will oversee the governing body’s new Global Calendar Unit.

Following a worldwide search which began at the end of last year, the 50-year old Dane was selected from a list of 74 candidates from more than 20 countries. As chief executive of the DAF for the last 12 years Larsen has grown revenues by 800 per cent and transformed the organisation from a traditional national governing body to a project-based organisation with an innovative performance system.

He and his team have invested in hosting several significant road races and other events, including the Schools Olympics, the Royal Run, the Copenhagen Half Marathon and two World Athletics Championships – the Half Marathon Championships in 2014 and Aarhus’ highly acclaimed World Cross Country Championships in 2019.

Commenting on the appointment, World Athletics chief executive Jon Ridgeon said: “Jakob’s skills and experience across our sport are rare and valuable. He combines incredible knowledge of athletics, having run a member federation, hosted world championships, one-day meetings, park and road events, with creativity and innovation which is critical to the journey we are on to grow athletics.

“Jakob’s background in running high-performance programmes, coaching, developing schools’ tournaments and scientific research gives him a unique perspective on our sport from the playground to the podium. We are delighted to welcome him to his new role at a time when we are focussing on our global calendar, defining our core product and expanding our one-day meetings. Jakob will be a real asset.”

Larsen will take up his position in early April and will be based in Monaco at World Athletics’ head office. As part of his role, Larsen will chair the newly-formed Global Calendar Unit. The Unit, which is currently chaired by Ridgeon, has been established to lead, manage and coordinate all parts of the global athletics calendar from World to National Championships and all competitions in between.

Its aim is to create a three-to-four-year long-term, constantly updated global calendar to make the competition schedule across the globe easier to understand and follow for all stakeholders. World Athletics last month finalised the schedule for the inaugural running of its Continental Tour with the addition of Nairobi, which will be the first African host city on this year’s calendar.

In November, the organisation formerly known as the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) 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.

In October, World Athletics revised a plan announced earlier in 2019 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.

In September, World Athletics 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. Infront will commence the agreement by marketing global rights to the Continental Tour.