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On the sidelines of the IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019, the President of the International Association of Athletics Federations, Sebastian Coe, found some time to sit down with a group of journalists from Africa and have a chat about wide-ranging issues.
For some years now, Coe has been supportive of the idea of Africa hosting the World Championships, and he reiterated his support for the continent in Doha. “Hosting championships in Africa is not a risk when it comes to crowds and passion because you get what is promised,” said Coe.
Under Coe, Africa has hosted many global athletics events, like the 2017 World U18 Championships in Nairobi and the 2017 World Cross Country Championships in Kampala. Also, Kenya is preparing to organise the World Athletics U20 Championships planned for Nairobi in 2020. A few countries on the continent expressed the willingness to organise the World Athletics Championships in 2025, the latest of them Kenya.
Coe said he was confident in Kenya’s ability to host successful competition, going by the country’s track record in organising other major athletics events. “The 2017 World U18 Championships was a good competition,” he said. “On the last day, I think we had 60,000 people in the stadium. We know it is a national obsession. Kenya has produced some of the greatest athletes, and I have been very privileged to have run against some of them like Mike Boit, Henry Rono and Nixon Kiprotich.”
Coe was unequivocal on the tough stance the IAAF has taken on the matter of doping. Africa has had its own doping scandals with some Kenyan athletes missing the World Championships for failing to comply with doping regulations. However, the IAAF President acknowledged progress made by the country and lauded the legislation introduced in parliament providing a foundational framework for anti-doping programmes. Coe then requested help from the media in fishing out the guilty.
“If you identify a problem, your responsibility does not end when you air your programme,” he said. “Come and share the information with the Athletics Integrity Unit. There are things that may give us the ability to go and get some of the people being talked about.”
The Athletics Olympic Dividend and the Diamond League
Coe explained during the chat why the 5000m will be swapped for the 3000m in the Diamond League. “We just made it so the athletes would have told us what they prefer in the Diamond League,” he said. “Africa should not feel slighted.”
No discipline will completely disappear from the Diamond League, however, as meeting directors still have the right to add any non-scoring discipline to their programme.
About the Athletics Olympic Dividend rolled out four years ago, Coe said Africa had received more money through the Athletics Olympic Dividend than any other continent and that it had been put to good use for the most part. “We recognise that what the Athletics Olympic Dividend has allowed many federations, including in Africa, is to create programmes and assets that have really made a difference on the ground.