IAAF: New Diamond League won't disadvantage African athletes

IAAF president Sebastian Coe says athletes such as Kenya's Hellen Obiri will not be disadvantaged by the new Diamond League format for 2019. AFP PHOTO / ALBERTO PIZZOLIALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images

African athletes will not lose competition opportunities despite the introduction of a trimmer Diamond League format next year, the sport's world governing body (IAAF) said on Sunday.

Diamond League meetings will be reduced from 14 to 12 competitions plus a final, with events longer than 3000 metres excluded from the program.

Athletics Kenya president Jackson Tuwei had criticised the decision, saying it was unfair to drop 5000m and 10,000m events in which African athletes have traditionally done very well.

IAAF president Sebastian Coe and chief executive Jon Ridgeon met Tuwei during the World Cross Country Championships in Aarhus and provided assurances that Kenyan and other East African athletes would not be disadvantaged, the governing body said.

Coe clarified that the absence of the 5000m from the official program would not prevent individual Diamond League meetings from running the race outside the 90-minute broadcast window.

"We believe that ultimately these changes will be beneficial not only to Kenyan and East African distance runners, but to our leading athletes around the globe, because it will result in a stronger, higher-profile, commercially successful annual showcase series for our sport," Coe said in a statement.

"And it's important to remember that the IAAF will be creating other continental competition opportunities outside the Diamond League as we redesign the global calendar."

The IAAF said the 3000m was selected because the 5000m runners, coaches and agents indicated they were unlikely to feature in all six races over that longer distance during the Diamond League series.

Ridgeon said the governing body would make further adjustments to the new Diamond League format at the end of the 2020 season.

Tuwei was pleased with the outcome of discussions held with the IAAF chiefs.

"I am satisfied that our athletes will receive sufficient opportunities to compete internationally in 2020, and I am reassured by the IAAF's undertaking that the impact of these decisions will be considered again at the end of each season, and member federations consulted about any changes that might be needed," he said.