The Wanda Diamond League today suspended a further two meetings in June as it continues to adapt the 2020 season calendar in the face of the coronavirus crisis, while Oslo’s Bislett Games are to be staged in an alternative format.

In recent weeks, the Wanda Diamond League has been forced to suspend a number of its early-season meetings as a result of health and logistical concerns brought about by the global coronavirus crisis.

Today the series announced the postponement of further meetings in Eugene, scheduled for 7 June, and Paris, June 13.

As with previous suspensions, this decision was reached in close consultation with all relevant parties and based on concerns over athlete safety as well as widespread travel restrictions which make it impossible to stage the competitions as planned.

Meanwhile, the Bislett Games also announced plans to host an alternative athletics competition, an exhibition event dubbed 'The Impossible Games', on June 11, the original date of this year’s Oslo Diamond League meeting.

The concept will see a number of world-class athletes take part in a one-off showpiece event in full observation of Norway’s coronavirus regulations and social distancing rules.

The programme is currently set to include a world record attempt from Norwegian hurdles star Karsten Warholm and a long-distance pole vault battle between world record holder Mondo Duplantis and record Diamond League Champion Renaud Lavillenie.

Organisers were nonetheless keen to stress that the full programme is yet to be confirmed and subject to changes.

The hour-long event will be shown live by Norway’s public broadcaster NRK and will be partly financed by the Norwegian National Athletics Association and World Athletics.

“This is really positive news for athletes and fans and promises, even in this early stage, to be another great night of athletics from the Bislett stadium. Congratulations to the Oslo Bislett Games for dreaming this up and following it through, working within the pandemic guidelines set out in Norway,” said World Athletics president Sebastian Coe.

“We are delighted to support the event by releasing the funds World Athletics makes to each Diamond League event but with one caveat, which is that the entire amount we are contributing goes to prize money for the athletes competing.”

Oslo meeting director and Bislett Alliance CEO Steinar Hoen said the athletes were “hungry for competitions”.

“We want to give them a high-class event. We have had a very positive dialogue with both the municipality of Oslo and the infection prevention superior in Oslo, and have confirmed a concept that is well within the government's infection control requirements,” he added.

 

 

World Athletics president Sebastian Coe says track and field must not be afraid to "think bigger" after the coronavirus pandemic passes.

On Tuesday, it was confirmed the Tokyo Olympics – which had been due to start in July – has been postponed to 2021 due to the ongoing crisis.

World Athletics has welcomed the decision, with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) having initially been reluctant to postpone the showpiece event.

It appears inevitable the World Athletics Championship, due to be held in Oregon in August 2021, will be nudged back a year to 2022 as a result.

Though disappointed at the 2020 schedule being hugely affected, Coe suggested there is now an opportunity to reinvigorate athletics.

"When we get through this, and we will, we will be braver and more innovative," Coe wrote in an open letter on Friday.

"We will be more collaborative and resilient. We will be stronger and more tolerant. We will be more global, not less.

"In sport we have a unique opportunity not to tiptoe around things and tweak at the edges. We have the chance to think bigger, to rip up the blueprints and banish the 'that's the way we've always done it' mentality."

Coe added: "The situation the world finds itself in today is a huge wake-up call for all of us – as human beings, as businesses and as sport. We should capitalise on this and work out new ways of delivering events, create and plan new events that embrace the many as well as the few.

"We can use this time to innovate and extend our sport across the year. Rather than just focusing on one-day meetings and one-day road races at one end of the spectrum and 10-day extravaganzas at the other end, we should look at weekend festivals of running, jumping and throwing that take advantage of the southern and northern hemisphere seasons.

"We should work with governments to re-establish sport in schools, rebuild club structures, incentivise people to exercise and get fit. This should and could be the new normal. We don't have to do things the same way.

"The priority for all of us right now is to contain the pandemic, stay healthy and stay home. But where we can continue to drive our sport forward, we must."

Coe also revealed his organisation will do all it can to ensure the outdoor season of one-day meetings goes ahead as soon as it is safe, with Diamond League events having been postponed until at least June.

Yohan Blake believes IAAF president Sebastian Coe is "killing" athletics by cutting back on Diamond League disciplines.

Sweeping changes announced in November saw the 200 metres, 3,000m steeplechase, discus and triple jump removed from the schedule for the upcoming season in a bid to accommodate a 90-minute broadcast window.

Former 100m world champion and 200m Olympic silver medallist Blake thinks the decision will do more harm than good to the sport.

"It has changed a lot, I am not going to lie. The times we are running have slowed down, track and field is dying a little," said Blake.

"If [Coe] can take away the 200 and triple jump, I don't know if he is trying to build or trying to kill athletics.

"But that's a stupid move he is making. He must enhance the sport, but he is killing it. It is just madness.

"This is people's careers and where they make money… You cannot do that. Everybody is hating him. We have to take a stand."

Christian Taylor, a seven-time Diamond League champion, has announced the formation of The Athletics Association, an association for all professional athletes from across the globe and has encouraged athletes worldwide to join and take back power from the IAAF.

There has been a significant backlash against the IAAF’s decision to cut eight events – four male and four female – from the Diamond League circuit for the upcoming season.

The IAAF has announced sweeping changes to the Diamond League schedule in a move intended to boost its value to broadcasters.

In plans revealed on Wednesday, the revised programme for men and women does not feature the 200 metres, 3,000m steeplechase, discus or triple jump on its list of Diamond League official disciplines.

The world governing body carried out research ahead of the 2020 season and said the alterations were made to accommodate a 90-minute broadcast window.

Despite the 200m being cited as one of the most popular disciplines, that sprint event and the steeplechase will each only feature in 10 of the 14 regular meetings on the calendar – five times for men and five times for women – and will not have Diamond League status or feature in the Diamond League Final.

IAAF Diamond League chairman Sebastian Coe said: "Our objective is to create a faster paced, more exciting global league that will be the showcase for our sport. A league that broadcasters want to show and fans want to watch.

"However, we understand the disappointment of those athletes in the disciplines not part of the 2020 Diamond League season.

"We want to thank the 10 Diamond League meetings which have found a way to include the 200 metres or the 3,000-metre steeplechase, male and female, during the 2020 season and the four meetings hosting a discus throw competition or a triple jump competition."

Noah Lyles, who has won the men's 200m in each of the last three seasons, tweeted his apparent dismay at the decision, posting an image of cartoon character Lisa Simpson appearing surprised along with the words: "Wow no 200m".

Zurich will host the Diamond League Final in 2020 and 2021 as the series switches to a single-day format.

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