World Athletics’ four-year Strategic Plan: Grassroots engagement, cross-country in Winter Olympics

“A huge amount of work has been put into developing our four-year Strategic Plan, led by our CEO Jon Ridgeon and with input and involvement from all at HQ, our Executive Board, our Area Presidents, Commission Chairs and Commissions,” said World Athletics President Sebastian Coe. “This is an exceptional body of work that brings together all the great things we do as a global sport body with a laser sharp focus on doing it better, and includes some innovative and creative ideas to drive growth in our sport. It is exactly the type of roadmap our sport needs to bring together all our stakeholders with a single vision, mission and clear priorities.”

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World Athletics has released a four-year Strategic Plan. The Plan is to grow the sport or in their words, “To use the power and accessibility of athletics and our athletes to create a healthier and fitter world.”

Grow the sport

World Athletics plans to grow the sport from both ends. They plan to connect the world-class elite to the grassroots and foundational levels. They hope to encourage children to be healthier and more active through running.
Part of this will be developing better coaches, officials, volunteers, and professionals.

World Athletics plans to engage fans more through attendance at events as well as reaching out through media and broadcasting.

The above will be supported by more meaningful partnerships, according to the strategic plan. To support the mutual interest of their 214 member federations.

A biennial World Athletics Road Championships is planned. This will combine the World Half Marathon Championships, as well as a mass participation race and other elements such as the World Race Walking Team Championships. These are all proposed in the four-year plan.

The off-road championship is proposed for every other year, which could combine the World Athletics Cross Country Championships with other disciplines including trail and mountain running.

World Athletics will also push ahead with efforts to get cross-country into the Winter Olympics.

Grassroots engagement

Following Sunday’s announcement of a new partnership with parkrun Global Ltd, is an attempt to increase participation at the grassroots level but also fans of the world-class or elite end, for example, the World Championships.

This makes sense. The average jogger of which there are many, could not identify with the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), now called World Athletics. They also could not identify the top athletes. There is a chasm between potential fans and the top end of the sport that does not exist (as much) in the MLB, NBA, NHL, and NFL.

The alternating road and off-road championships will be launched in early 2023, according to the plan. Stay tuned.

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