Letter From World Athletics CEO Jon Ridgeon To Global Throwing Group:
Dear Global Throwing Group,
Thank you for your recent letter. As CEO of World Athletics (IAAF) I am replying on behalf of the organisation.
As you know, the Diamond League is an important showcase for our sport and it is our responsibility, working in collaboration with the individual Meetings that make up the league, to create the best possible series of one day Meetings that fans want to watch and broadcasters want to show. The very existence of the Diamond League depends on it, as the Meeting budgets (including athlete prize money) are only viable through the investment of broadcast and sponsorship revenues, alongside World Athletics’ contribution, which to date has been almost $50 million.
After ten years of existence, the market demanded that the Diamond League product now evolve, as evidenced by the fact that the league has not enjoyed the presence of a title sponsor for the last eight years. As a result, we have listened to our broadcasters and fans and made changes, some of which were announced this week. One of the changes requested by the majority of our contracted broadcasters is the reduction of our international broadcast window from 120 minutes to 90 minutes, in order to create a faster-paced and more entertaining product that can attract the widest possible live audience.
To make this happen, we had to make decisions in terms of reducing the number of disciplines held within the live broadcast window, alongside other changes such as concluding the league with one final rather than the current two and looking to establish a more logical spread of Meeting dates.
Of course these are difficult decisions and we realise they impact on individuals. This is why we conducted extensive research this summer to guide the selection of the disciplines that would be included for 2020. These decisions were taken collectively by the Meeting Directors and World Athletics, who make up the Diamond League General Assembly.
Knowing that some disciplines would not be included within the 90 minute international broadcast window and shortened final, World Athletics has invested time and considerable funds to create a new strong one day Meeting series – The World Athletics Continental Tour. The Continental Tour will offer those athletes affected by next year’s changes to the the Diamond League, opportunities for high level competition, significant prize money, top flight world ranking points and visibility to fans, both live and through international broadcast. This is in addition to signature disciplines being held within the Diamond League, either in or outside of the international broadcast window.
Whilst change will always be challenging, the market has already responded positively, with a new title sponsor in Wanda Sports Group being recently secured. This new partnership represents the single biggest sponsorship deal that the sport of athletics has ever attracted and was only possible because of the message of evolution we sent to the market through our proposed changes.
The Wanda partnership has also enabled us at World Athletics to invest more significantly in the World Athletics Continental Tour, which will be a series of between 10 and 12 Meetings covering disciplines that will not be in the Diamond League, as well as some that are. The details of the 2020 Continental Tour will be shared with the World Athletics Council and the Athletes Forum in Monaco in a couple of weeks time.
Everything that is proposed by the Diamond League General Assembly and that we, at World Athletics, are including in the Continental Tour, will be fully reviewed at the end of 2020. Those disciplines not included in the Diamond League will be in the Continental Tour but may return to the Diamond League in 2021.
You and all the athletes have our absolute commitment on this and we would value further the Global Throwers input. I have already arranged to meet with Shaun Pickering next month, as a representative of your group, to take these discussions forward.
Finally, like you, we want athletes to be at the centre of decision-making, which is why we will have two athletes as full voting members of our Council from this November’s Council meeting onwards.
Chief Executive Officer
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