The sport must embrace change to remain interesting - Coe

athletics29 February 2024 14:37| © Reuters
article image
Sebastian Coe © Gallo Images

Athletics cannot shy away from change, says the president of the sport's governing body, Sebastian Coe, who stressed it must keep pace with changing interests of viewers and sponsors to thrive.

World Athletics recently announced plans to trial the elimination of fouls from the long jump event and, on the eve of the world indoor championships in Glasgow, Coe stressed these kinds of revisions must be embraced.

"The holy grail of every sport is to remain salient, interesting, exciting to young people, we have can't have a tin ear in their direction," Coe said at the worlds' opening press conference on Thursday.

"We have to recognise that the way people consume sport – the way they consume entertainment – is different than it was even three years ago."

A third of all jumps at the 2023 outdoor world championships in Budapest were no-jumps, so eliminating fouls would make the event more appealing to the public.

"Our sport is 150 years old and there are elements of it you are absolutely wanting to protect, they're sacrosanct. (But) there's stuff there that just leaves people a little cold," Coe said.

"We're not going to back off innovation here, it is really important," he added.

"We have a responsibility to future proof the sport, to continue to create the landscape, financially particularly. World class businesses do not routinely want to join enterprises they think are going in the wrong direction."

The 19th worlds, which run from Friday through Sunday at the Emirates Arena, are the culmination of a strong indoor season, Coe said, pointing to three world records two weeks ago at New York's Millrose Games alone.


Femke Bol of the Netherlands (400 metres), American Grant Holloway and Devynne Charlton of the Bahamas (men's and women's 60m hurdles respectively) and Britain's Josh Kerr (two mile) have all set world records this season and are in Glasgow.

Kerr, an Edinburgh native and gold medallist in the 1 500m in Budapest, will be the fan favourite in the 3 000m.

With his sights set on gold at this year's Paris Olympics, the 26-year-old said he only decided to race in Glasgow after discussions with coach Danny Mackey.

"The conversation had to be the training had to come more easily than it normally does indoors," Kerr said.

"It always takes a little bit more time to build up into these events and the short track isn't the most beneficial on my knees and my hips. So, just making sure that the body wasn't fighting the training.

"I didn't want to give up the opportunity to try and win another Olympic medal because I was forcing my hand to be at a home championships was (Mackey's) point of view," he added.

"I obviously wanted to be here and that meant I had to be extremely regimented in everything that I did (in preparation)."

Kerr outkicked Olympic 1 500m champion Jakob Ingebrigtsen to win world gold in Hungary and, while the Norwegian will not race in Glasgow due to an Achilles injury he stirred the pot on their rivalry recently.

"I would have beaten him in that (two-mile) race, blindfolded," Ingebrigtsen told Norway's TV2 of Kerr's world record run. "But it's good that people run better than they have done before."

Kerr declined to throw fuel on the fire.

"No comment," he said when asked about it on Thursday.