Work is underway on a restructured competition calendar that will create a clear and compelling narrative in the qualifying process for the European Athletics Championships, said President Svein Arne Hansen at the 10th European Athletics CEO Conference in Minsk, Belarus, last weekend.
Speaking almost exactly one year after his election to Europe’s top post in the sport, Hansen, who was responding to questions put by the audience to him and IAAF President Sebastian Coe, said he hoped to have the new means of qualification developed and then approved by the European Athletics Council in time for qualification to the 2018 Championships in Berlin, which will be part of the inaugural multi-sport European Championships along with six other sports.
This edition of the CEO Conference, which Hansen called the “best ever”, was hosted by the Belarus Athletic Federation and the county’s National Olympic Committee from Friday to Sunday.
Participants representing 50 Member Federations heard several top speakers addressing issues around brand and brand building such as product development, governance, communications and social media strategy.
Among the presentations was that delivered by Council member Libor Varhanik who described European Athletics’ recently launched Innovation Project, through which many new product ideas for the sport will be elaborated into proposals.
Speaking after the conference, Hansen added, “Rebuilding the value of our brand calls for positive stories that grab the attention of our fans and the public. Innovation linked to our major events and other competitions will do just that.
“We must not forget we have a great sport. Yes, we have had some knocks in the last six months and we need to address issues at all levels, but I am proud that as an organisation we are not in denial, we are not trying to sweep things under the carpet but, rather, we are moving forward.”
After outlining the first steps he has taken to restore trust following the doping and corruption scandals that have rocked the IAAF, President Coe said a package of reform proposals is currently being prepared for consultation and votes by the IAAF Member Federations, possibly at a Special Congress later this year.
Agreeing with Hansen about the importance of innovation in the competition system, he said there needs to be more athletics throughout the year and more head-to-head competition between top athletes in order to attract the public.
“We need to create a much more coherent narrative to the season. That’s the work that can start around the one-day meeting product and calendar coordination.”
Coe also spoke about the need for the IAAF to be proactive in helping clubs and other grassroots organisations to impart the history and values of athletics to youngsters to give them the foundation for making good decisions as a part of the overall fight against doping.
The other conference speakers were Jon Tibbs of JTA Associates, Brian Minikin of the University of Sterling, European Athletics Vice President Dobromir Karimarinov, Charlie Greenwood and Mike Lawrence of LiveWire Sport, and Eline Andersen of Sport Event Denmark.
The CEO Conference can be viewed in its entirety here by clicking on the Related Link.