Paris: Track and field’s world governing body announced a nine-year plan Thursday to boost the sport’s global popularity as it struggles to compete for attention and sponsorship outside Olympic years.
IAAF president Lamine Diack said he hopes athletics will be in a position “to remain the No. 1 sport of individuals” in 2012, coinciding with the centenary of the International Association of Athletics Federations.
The initiative won overwhelming support on the second day of the IAAF congress, meeting ahead of the World Championships starting Saturday at the Stade de France.
Although athletics is the centrepiece of the Summer Olympics, the sport has a tough time retaining its appeal during the years between the Games. Its mass appeal has come under pressure from soccer, basketball and other sports.
One of the key points of the project is to change the international competition calendar to make sure athletics remains a more prominent feature throughout the year.
Another challenge is to make sure the sport moves beyond its European power base and spreads throughout the world. All of the IAAF’s elite Golden League meets are currently held in Europe. (AP)