International Athletics

Coe calls for athletics to be 'more entertaining'

2016-05-05 15:26
Sebastian Coe (Getty Images)

Doha - Athletics must become "a lot more entertaining" and follow the lead set by basketball and winter sports to attract younger fans, Sebastian Coe urged on Thursday.

The world athletics chief, speaking in Doha 24 hours ahead of the opening Diamond League meeting of the season, said his sport needed to adapt and use new formats and engage with its audience more on social media.

"We have to make our sport a lot more entertaining and a lot more innovative for younger people, that means the speed with which they watch events," Coe told reporters at a press conference in Doha.

"Our activity is athletics but our business is entertainment," he added.

Coe cited the example of winter sports, which have brought in several new competitions in recent years, including 10 new events at the Sochi Olympics in 2014.

These included the Luge relay, women's ski jumping and snowboard parallel slalom.

Coe also pointed to the NBA, which has attracted hundreds of millions of fans on social media including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

"If you look at the way a lot of winter sports are presented... crowds are entertained and the way social media is used to bring the competitors into the lives of spectators, I think Nordic sports has definitely done that very well.

"If you look at the younger audiences which are now watching winter sports at the Olympic Games, that's actually a younger cohort than in the summer games.

"There are things we can learn from.

"If you look at the way the NBA, NHL have really pushed the envelope on social media, that's been quite innovative."

He added: "We have to be on our game on this."

The IAAF president also re-affirmed recent claims that changes could be made to speed up the format of the Olympics and World Championships.

He also said athletics should consider extending its season, which currently runs from May to September.

"We are never going to die, we are a strong sport, but I think we can be much better.

"I don't think we have kept up with other sports in the way we access younger people," said Coe.

Friday's meeting in Doha is the opening outdoor event of an Olympics season but comes at a time when athletics is under a cloud and dealing with the latest doping allegations.

Despite that, a strong field of some 80 current and former Olympic medallists will be competing in Qatar, including Kenya's Asbel Kiprop, the Netherlands' Dafne Schippers and Jamaica's Veronica Campbell-Brown.

Read more on:    sebastian coe  |  athletics

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