Thu, Jan 08, 2009 - Page 19 News List

Golden League may be expanded to 12 meetings next year


The elite Golden League series could be doubled to 12 meetings next year, taking the lucrative athletics circuit outside Europe with possible events in the US, the Middle East and China.

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) is considering the expanded format for next year, which could include meets in Eugene, Oregon; Beijing; and Doha, Qatar. European meets in London; Lausanne, Switzerland; and Stockholm, Sweden, could also join the list.

“The actual final composition of the new tour will not be known until the summer at the earliest, once negotiations have revealed who wants to be a part of it,” IAAF spokesman Nick Davies told reporters on Tuesday.

The IAAF advisory board, headed by IAAF president Lamine Diack, will meet in the first week of next month to review proposals for private funding of the circuit. The IAAF Council, the federation’s decision-­making body, will meet in Berlin on March 21-22 to consider final approval for the project.

The IAAF would negotiate over the summer with individual meets to decide which ones would be part of the new circuit. There is no guarantee that meets in the current Golden League would be part of the new series.

The Golden League has meets in Berlin; Brussels, Belgium; Oslo, Norway; Paris; Rome; and Zurich, Switzerland. The series offers a US$1 million jackpot for athletes who win their designated event at all six meets. Kenyan teenager Pamela Jelimo claimed the entire prize last year by sweeping the women’s 800m races.

Davies said the IAAF wants to add at least four meets outside Europe.

The insidetherings Web site reported that three major groups, including an unidentified European media company, are in discussions with the IAAF about bankrolling the new circuit.

The IAAF is trying to boost the sport’s popularity and reach around the world. In the US, the sport has suffered from doping scandals and a lack of mainstream support and television coverage.

However, the annual Prefontaine Classic in Eugene attracts many of the top stars and would be a top contender for Golden League status.

Beijing’s “Bird’s Nest” stadium, which hosted the athletics events at last year’s Olympics, would likely be considered as a venue for an Asian meet. Shanghai could also be in the running.

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