The International Association of Athletics Federations is keen to link the 2021 edition of its World Championships, which will be held in the US state of Oregon, to Los Angeles’ staging of the 2028 summer Olympic Games in a move designed to boost interest in the sport in the country.
Speaking to the Reuters news agency, IAAF chief executive Olivier Gers said that the organisation wants to engage fans in its showpiece event ahead of the Olympics seven years later.
The city of Eugene was awarded hosting rights to the 2021 IAAF World Championships in April 2015. It will mark the first time that the US has staged the event.
At the time, the IAAF said the proposal to award its premier competition to Eugene, bypassing the usual bidding process, was taken in response to what was seen as a “unique strategic opportunity” to take the event to a new market. Los Angeles has since been awarded the 2028 Olympics, and Gers sees the two events as the ideal opportunity to step up engagement levels in the US.
“We are starting to think about the wrap-up in the US to LA 2028," Gers told Reuters. “How do we work with the organising committee of the LA Olympics to maximise the awareness of the sport at the local level?
"We need to use Eugene and LA to bring the sport to a top four positioning on a global basis.”
Gers added that one of the biggest challenges facing the IAAF “is to make the sport more accessible for the casual fans, the ones who get passionate around the Olympics and then forget it.”
Gers also said that the IAAF is considering some innovative proposals for the competition, including a 4x400m mixed relay event.