By Mitch Phillips
LONDON (Reuters) – Athletics is to introduce a world rankings system in 2018 as part of a widespread effort to bring some sense and shape to its currently nebulous calendar, and continue to move away from the sport’s scandal-hit past.
The introduction of the rankings in partnership with All Athletics, announced on Friday, is part of a sweeping reform package that was voted in by the IAAF last December to change the way the sport’s governing body operates.
The rankings will be a point-based system in which athletes collect points across different levels of meet throughout the season to determine qualification for premier competitions such as the Olympics and World Championships.
It is also hoped that the introduction of the rankings will bring some focus to the Diamond League, where currently leading athletes often do not compete against each other, leaving fans feeling short-changed and often confused.
International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) President Seb Coe has made no secret of his frustration with many aspects of the Diamond League’s current format and is desperate to reform it.
When it comes to major championships, athletes are currently selected by their national associations, if they achieve a qualification time or mark.
“The IAAF World Rankings will drive and shape the global competition system including entry into the World Championships and Olympic Games,” Coe said in a statement.
“For the first time in the sport’s history, athletes, media and fans will have a clear understanding of the hierarchy of competitions… allowing them to follow a logical season-long path to the pinnacle of Athletics’ top two competitions.”
The athletes’ position in the rankings will be determined by various performance aspects along with the level of competition they are participating in.
The points system for each event along with other details related to the rankings will be finalised in the first quarter of 2018, meaning the new system can be applied for qualification into the 2019 World Championships and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The sport’s governing body will also establish a new department named IAAF Heritage to use athletics’ history, drive understanding of the sport and promote it around the world.
“The Rankings will bring much needed clarity to what is today a confusing competition picture even for those from within the sport, while Heritage will be an important tool to help inform, inspire and engage interest through the extraordinarily story of Athletics,” IAAF CEO Olivier Gers said.
(Reporting by Mitch Phillips/Aditi Prakash in Bengaluru; Editing by John O’Brien)