POSTED: August 14th 2009

Rogge hails revived youth appeal of track and field

Usain Bolt: weekend drama ahead /
Usain Bolt: weekend drama ahead /

KEIR RADNEDGE / Sports Features Communications

BERLIN: Jacques Rogge endorsed in Berlin today a growing increase in the worldwide appeal of track and field on the eve of the World Athletics Championships.

These championships will be the first major event in the sport in the German capital since the notorious Olympic Games of 1936 and the weekend’s action will be dominated by the sprint duel between American Tyson Gay and Jamaica's triple Olympic champion Usain Bolt.

IOC president Rogge, after a meeting with the International Athletics Federation, had no doubt about the strength of the sport which is, as he acknowledged, the core of the Olympics.

He said: “The ratings for track and field from the Games in Beijing last year were very high and, not only this, but we had higher television audiences in the youth age 12 to 24 category where we had slump since 1992 in Barcelona.

“It is very reassuring that there is a vast and healthy interest in this most universal of sports – the most important at the Olympics and which has fantastic assets.”

Great attractions

On wider sports issues, Rogge welcomed the proposal, from the executive board on Thursday, that the IOC should consider admitting rugby union sevens and golf into the Games in 2016. He said: “These are two sports with a great audience and great attractions in their top competition to have them in the Olympics would only increase the appeal of the Games.”

Rogge reported that the meeting had discussed the need for WADA to rush through the accreditation of more laboratories for blood profile testing to ease the current problems of transportation and refrigeration.

On associated issues, he offered little hope of a decision any time soon on the disputed women’s 100m gold medal from Sydney originally won by the American Marion Jones.

In 2007 Jones was stripped of all five of he medals she won in Sydney after admitting to doping. However the assignation of gold in the 100m has been put on ice because of legal issues surrounding the Greek runner-up Katerina Thanou.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport has to rule on a further related appeal and further information was still anticipated from the Jones/BALCO investigation in the US.

Lamine Diack, president of the IAAF, concurred with Rogge on these issues.

Diack also said that, contrary to speculation, he would be prepared to continue as president beyond the expiry of his present term in 2011. Lord Coe and Sergey Bubka are both considered possible candidates as successor.

Keywords · IOC · IAAF · golf · rugby · Rogge · Diack · Marion Jones · Katerina Thanou · Sydney · 2000 Olympic Games · dope testing · WADA

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