* Meetings in Doha, Stockholm, Rome, London, Eugene, Oslo, Paris called off
Duro Ikhazuagbe with agency report
For the first time since its inaugural edition in 2010, there will be no final of the World Athletics’ Diamond League this year.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic that has put virtually all sports activities in the cooler since March, World Athletics announced yesterday that there will be no usual final leg of its elite track and field athletic competition in Zurich, this year
The league is made up of 15 of the best invitational athletics meetings.
Already, the Diamond League season earlier scheduled to start in Doha on April 17, has been called off.
Meetings in Doha, Stockholm, Rome, Rabat, Eugene, Oslo and Paris have all been cancelled due to the pandemic.
Top Nigerian athletes like Blessing Okagbare, Tobi Amusan, Ese Brume, etc were scheduled to feature in some of these meets ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. The summer games has also been moved to next year.
Yesterday, UK Athletics Chief, Joanna Coates, confirmed that the London Diamond League meeting scheduled for early July has also been cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Anniversary Games had been due take place at the same London Stadium which hosted the 2012 Olympics, on July 4-5.
“We are hugely disappointed to confirm the cancellation of one of the flagship events of the global athletics calendar…But we must place the safety of the entire athletics family at the forefront of every decision we make during these unprecedented times and ensure we are following government advice,” Coates further stressed.
The series sits in the top tier of the World Athletics one-day meeting competitions.
The Diamond League’s schedule of one-day meetings will however begin with the Monaco meeting on 14 August and continue through until mid-October even as there is no final to look forward to.
Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) board member and Nigeria’s foremost track and field writer, Dare Esan told THISDAY that it was shameful the damage the Covid-19 pandemic has done to global sports.
“This is really a shame that the Diamond League and several other sporting events have had their calendars disrupted by the Coronavirus pandemic. However, I think the decision to cancel or postpone these events is better than exposing athletes and officials to the dangers of contracting the virus,” observed Esan who has covered most of World Athletics’ World Championships live in the last two decades.
However, World Athletics President Sebastian Coe praised the cooperative efforts of the meeting organisers to work with World Athletics to still put together a substantial competition season for the sport’s top athletes.
“As we have worked through the challenges posed by the pandemic and the disruption it has caused to our sport, as well as the wider community, our first priority was the health and safety of our athletes.
And the next priority has been to find a way to get our professional athletes back into international competition this year as their incomes rely on this.
“I’m delighted that it now looks like we will be able to offer them a solid international season between August and October where they can earn prize money and assess their training progress in preparation for next year’s Olympic Games, although we know this will not be easy for everyone.
“Inevitably international travel restrictions will affect the ability of some athletes to attend some meetings, but we hope that there will be a wide enough range of meetings available for most elite athletes to access some competition before the end of the year.”
Of the World Athletics Series events that were scheduled for 2020, only the World Half Marathon Championships will go ahead this year, on 17 October in Gdynia, Poland.
The World Indoor Championships will be held in Nanjing, 19-21 March, 2021, but the World U20 Championships in Nairobi, Kenya, and the World Race Walking Team Championships in Minsk, Belarus are still being