IAAF President Sebastian Coe and IOC President Thomas Bach ahead of ther IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 (Getty Images) © Copyright
News Doha, Qatar

Coe and Bach meet in Doha - IAAF World Athletics Championships 2019

The traditional meeting today between the IAAF Council and the IOC Executive Board on the occasion of the IAAF World Athletics Championships was described by the IAAF President Sebastian Coe as “very successful” and by the IOC President Thomas Bach as “very fruitful.”

Speaking at a press conference in the Khalifa International Stadium shortly before the start of action of the IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019, Bach began by saying that the meeting had given the Executive Board the opportunity “to officially congratulate Sebastian Coe on his brilliant and unanimous re-election as President of the IAAF.

“Which I think is pretty remarkable after four years of reforms,” he said. “Knowing my own experiences, when you are undertaking reforms this doesn’t please everybody. So being re-elected unanimously really speaks for itself.

“We had the opportunity to exchange a number of points of view, and to envisage joint efforts on a number of topics.

“First of all the question of how maintain and strengthen the relevance of the sports among the youth. How we can attract the young people to do the sport, and in this case athletics.

“We have also been addressing an issue we are facing in world of sport among the challenge we have, the growing tendency of the politicisation of sport, which does already affect and can even more affect the universality of sport, which is a priority – our mission - to keep this universality.

“We have in this context emphasised that in order to keep this universality we must apply strict political neutrality in every respect and show that in sport there is no discrimination, for whatever reason, including the political reasons.

“And only if we apply from our side the political neutrality we can expect that the political side respects our mission and allows us to be politically neutral because this we cannot do on our own. We need the respect of politics.

“We have also discussed the approach to transgender and DSD athletes. The IOC has a working group of experts from all walks of life – athletes, sports organisations, human rights, ethics, those with scientific expertise - working on a framework which then can serve a guideline for the international federations, who then have to determine about their own rules within their federation.”

Bach added that the two organisations had gone on to talk about “good co-operation between the Athletics Integrity Unit and the Independent Testing Authority, in particular with regard to the Tokyo pre-testing programme.

“Because as you know the IOC is very much interested to catch any cheats before an Olympic Games and has again initiated a pre-testing programme for Tokyo in order to make the Games as clean as possible.

“We have also talked about the preparation of Tokyo, the Youth Olympic Games in Dakar, for Paris 2024, and we have realised that in this respect we are aligned in our approach and analysis of what a sport needs for the future.

“For example how the IOC with a new programme has made the Olympic Games for 2020 with the biggest reform of the Olympic Programme for decades - more urban, more female and more interesting for the youth.

“And the IAAF is greatly contributing to this, in particular with regard to the mixed relays, which will be produced.”

Coe: ‘A very good opportunity to have a wide-ranging discussion’

Coe responded: “We have just come from a very good meeting and are we the one sport that does meet with the IOC during the course of our Championships. We don’t take that lightly and it was a very good opportunity to have a wide-ranging discussion. That’s why we are running a little bit late, but it was really worth remaining there to discuss all the issues that Thomas has just identified.

“I thought I’d just pull out two specific areas and it really touches on two points the IOC President has just made. The first is that our biggest challenge – and we recognised this very clearly around the table is to maintain in both our organisations the salient interest, development and excitement for what we do.

“Sport isn’t actually uniquely our only competitor. Athletics can’t sit there any longer saying ‘it’s swimming or gymnastics.’ It’s the rest of the world, and it’s been that way for a long time.

“And one thing we recognised on both sides of the discussion was that the landscape has changed and we can no longer rely on the traditional pyramid. There are many more actors, many more players in this field and life is more complicated. And we always have to be alert to that.

“We’ve just come out of a Congress where, again, to pick up on a point made a moment ago, encouraging more women into sport is fundamental in the field of play, and we are delighted that we are heading into a World Championships where we are pretty much 50-50 in terms of gender.

“But that we also have to recognise that we have governing structures that actually look like the world in which we are living. And we’ve come out of this Congress with for the first time a female vice-president – that was part of our changes in the Governance report - and we also now have eight women on the Council.

“And we are now moving very well with the work of our gender leadership Task Force towards a 50-50 split by 2027. And in the World Championships themselves we have shown our ability on this occasion to innovate around mixed relays, evening-only sessions, midnight marathons and race walks – partly of course because the welfare of the athletes is so important to us – and the ability to showcase our combined events personalities, male and female, on the same day.

“All these things are, in a way, a really good incubator to be able to see the shape of future world championships.

“We also had very good discussion about need for good governance. I was able to take the Executive Board and President through the journey over the last few years. They’ve been following the main issues obviously.

“Two years ago we met in London we were able to talk only about the first two years of that journey. The Special Congress that was able to get the 220 changes across the line in Monaco in November. By 2017 in London we were in the implementation phase.

And we were very happy to be able to report that since we last met in London that implementation is there in full.”