Zurich to host 2020 and 2021 Diamond League finals in new one-final format

Weltklasse Zurich will host the 2021 and 2022 Diamond League finals under the new one-final format reforms announced by the IAAF and Diamond League in March this year.

Traditionally the Diamond League has culminated in two finals, in Zurich and Brussels, but the renovation of the King Baudoin Stadium in the Belgian capital has provided the organisers with an opportunity to schedule a single climax to the series.

The IAAF and the Diamond League have been at pains to simplify the narrative across the athletics season and make the series a more appealing product for broadcasters. Reforms in March reduced the number of meetings in the Diamond League calendar from 14 to 13, with 12 qualifier events culminating in a season-ending final. It was announced that athletes’ points totals would be added up across the course of the season to create more of a narrative. It is now known that the athletes with the most points will qualify for the season-ending event in Zurich.

In March it was also announced that the television window for the 12 qualifier meetings would be reduced from 120 minutes to 90-minutes to create a faster-paced product. However, a statement on the Diamond League website indicates that the finals in Zurich will be an hour longer than the regular season meetings, clocking in at 150-minutes.

The statement added that each meeting will have the choice of adding extra events to its schedule, outside the core broadcast window, to create opportunities for a wider range of disciplines to be showcased to spectators and the domestic broadcast audience throughout the season.

“The Diamond League is vital to our future growth as it provides an annual showcase of the very best in athletics, which is why we must ensure that every contest broadcast to the world is of the highest standard,” said IAAF president Sebastian Coe. “We expect the new Diamond League format to be even more thrilling for our global audience as it builds excitement throughout the outdoor season and reaches a crescendo in Zurich.”

The IAAF is a shareholder in the Diamond League by virtue of underwriting all of the prize money. But SportBusiness understands the series is a drag on the federation’s revenues. The core issue is the imbalance between high-performing meets like Zurich, Brussels and London and struggling meets such as Oslo and Paris. Sponsorship is sold separately by the individual meetings making it difficult to take a coherent global sponsorship offering to market.

The statement said IMG will continue to market the media rights for the Diamond League.

The Diamond League board will decide on the full 2020 schedule of 12 regular season meetings at its next session in September, subject to ratification by the Diamond League General Assembly on 21 October 2019. The statement said the list of disciplines that will be included in the broadcast window will be decided at the end of the outdoor season.