Speaking on the eve of the Doha 2013 meeting (Friday 10 May) which opens the 2013 IAAF Diamond League season – featuring 10 Olympic and 14 World champions, including IAAF Athlete of the Year Allyson Felix – IAAF President Lamine Diack responded to questions over Samsung’s ending of their sponsorship after backing the first three years of the event with confidence.
“Although we welcome having the extra funds from a title sponsor, the IAAF considers the series as a valuable property which is worthy of our direct investment,” he said.
“So, while we are working hard to find a new partner for the circuit, it is not a question of life or death either as the financial input of a title sponsor was never crucial to the viability of the series.”
“To attract a title sponsor in the first year was certainly an enormous boost for our young project, and the extension of that contract for a third year in 2012 was a further endorsement,” the President said.
“Our vision from the beginning was that we would create a new exciting product for the top tier of the sport’s invitational circuit and that has been achieved, and we are confident that in the IAAF Diamond League we have a highly attractive asset.”
Worldwide TV audience for Diamond League, he said, was “far greater than anything dreamt” by the previous Golden League.
“In 2012, Diamond League was broadcast by 98 TV stations and was watched by 223 million people in 132 countries.”
The President added that Moscow, hosts of this summer’s IAAF World Championships, would “confirm the success” of the London 2012 Olympics.
Doha 2013 is being billed as the best competition in the meeting’s history. Felix is joined by fellow London winners David Rudisha, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Christian Taylor and Tomasz Majewski, and will also feature local hero Mutaz Essa Barshim, the Olympic High Jump bronze medallist.
Sitting alongside the President, HE Dahlan al Hamad, president of the Qatar Athletics Federation and chairman of IDL Doha 2013, confirmed that there was a clear desire to bid for the IAAF World Championships of 2019, having missed out on the 2017 version to London.
“Definitely,” said Al Hamad, who is also an IAAF Vice President, “we will try in 2019 or beyond. As a federation, we have the desire to be hosts of the World Championships. Of course we have to gain the approval from the head of state, but I can assure you that, yes, we have the desire to go for it.”
He said that Doha 2013 would involve 29 Olympic medallists, and 18 world medallists, adding that the World 100m champion Yohan Blake had been due to compete in the 100m but had had to withdraw because of an injury. “Despite not being able to come to Doha this year, Yohan hopes he will make it next year.”
Mike Rowbottom for the IAAF