New Diamond League won't disadvantage African athletes: IAAF

FILE PHOTO: The logo of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) is seen in Monaco, March 11, 2016. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard/File Photo

(Reuters) - 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 3,000 meters excluded from the program. Athletics Kenya (AK) president Jackson Tuwei had criticized the decision, saying it was unfair to drop 5,000m and 10,000m events in which African athletes have traditionally done very well. IAAF President Sebastian Coe and CEO 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 5,000m from the official program would not prevent individual Diamond League meetings from running the event outside of 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 3,000m was selected because the 5,000m runners, coaches and agents indicated they were unlikely to feature in all six races over that distance during the Diamond League series. Ridgeon said the governing body will 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. (Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis)