World Athletics president Lord Coe is confident the International Olympic Committee would “share in the principle” of track and field gold medal winners earning prize money in Paris – but admitted his organisation had not discussed the historic move with the IOC.

Athletics’ international federation announced on Wednesday that it would be the first sport to offer Olympic prize money in Games history, with winners in the 48 disciplines to receive US$50,000 (£39,400).

Coe said World Athletics chief executive Jon Ridgeon had given the IOC the heads-up about the announcement on Wednesday morning but confirmed the initiative had not been discussed with the IOC in advance.

Asked whether that approach should be seen as surprising, Coe said: “I don’t think so. It’s a matter for the sport.

“The one thing the International Olympic Committee has consistently recognised – and they’re right to – is the primacy of international federations to fashion their own futures.

“I don’t believe this is remotely at variance with the concept that the International Olympic Committee often talks about, which is recognising the efforts that our competitors make.

“I am hoping the IOC would share in this principle, given their avowed commitment to make sure that revenues raised through the Olympic Movement find their way back onto the front line. I think they make the point that 80 or 90 per cent of that goes back.”

The IOC has been contacted for comment.

A total prize pot of US$2.4 million (£1.89m) has been ringfenced by World Athletics for Paris, with the federation committed to introducing prize money for silver and bronze medallists from the Los Angeles 2028 Games onwards.

Some of the early social media reaction to World Athletics’ announcement was that the concept of prize money ran counter to the Olympic spirit of amateurism.

Coe said he had “no concern” in that respect, adding: “Introducing prize money for gold medallists acknowledges that the athletes are the reason that billions of people watch the Games and why it attracts such high revenues.

“I am probably the last generation to have been on the 75 pence meal voucher and second class rail fare competing for my country.

“I do understand the nature of the transition we’ve been in and we’re now operating in a completely different landscape, a completely different planet, from when I was competing.

“So it is very important that this sport recognises the change in that landscape and the added pressures on competitors.”

The US$50,000 gold medal prize will be split between the winning team in relay events.

Track and field gold medallists at the Olympic Games in Paris this summer will each receive US$50,000 (£39,400) in prize money.

World Athletics announced the US$2.4million (£1.89m) prize pot on Wednesday morning in a move which makes it the first international sport federation to award prize money at an Olympics.

The global governing body said the initiative also included a “firm commitment” to extend the prize money to silver and bronze medallists at the Los Angeles Games in four years’ time.

Relay medallists will split the US$50,000 prize across the team, World Athletics said.

“The introduction of prize money for Olympic gold medallists is a pivotal moment for World Athletics and the sport of athletics as a whole, underscoring our commitment to empowering the athletes and recognising the critical role they play in the success of any Olympic Games,” World Athletics president Sebastian Coe said.

“This is the continuation of a journey we started back in 2015, which sees all the money World Athletics receives from the International Olympic Committee for the Olympic Games go directly back into our sport.”

Coe added: “We started with the Olympic dividend payments to our member federations, which saw us distribute an extra five million dollars a year on top of existing grants aimed at athletics growth projects, and we are now in a position to also fund gold medal performances for athletes in Paris, with a commitment to reward all three medallists at the LA28 Olympic Games.

“While it is impossible to put a marketable value on winning an Olympic medal, or on the commitment and focus it takes to even represent your country at an Olympic Games, I think it is important we start somewhere and make sure some of the revenues generated by our athletes at the Olympic Games are directly returned to those who make the Games the global spectacle that it is.”

The awarding of prize money will be subject to ratification, which will include medal-winning athletes undergoing and clearing the usual anti-doping checks.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has been contacted for comment.

Manchester United co-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe called the chance to develop a world-class stadium and regenerate the Old Trafford area a “once-in-a-century opportunity” as Lord Coe was named chair of a new joint task force.

The Red Devils will not be moving away from Old Trafford but have options to redevelop the current ground or build a new one on adjacent club-owned land.

New minority owner Ratcliffe recently said redevelopment will cost around £1billion but favoured a new £2billion stadium that would be among the best in the world.

The Ineos chairman recently said he sees no issue with United seeking state support for a new ground and financing will be one aspect of the ‘Old Trafford Regeneration Task Force’, which will explore “the development of a world-class football stadium at the heart of the project” to regenerate the area.

United co-owner Ratcliffe said: “This can be a major regeneration project for an area of Greater Manchester which has played such a key role in British industrial history, but which today requires new investment to thrive again.

“The north-west of England has a greater concentration of major football clubs than anywhere else in the world, yet we don’t have a stadium on the scale of Wembley, the Nou Camp or Bernabeu.

“We will not be able to change that on our own, which is why this task force is so important to help us seize this once-in-a-century opportunity.”

Lord Coe, the London 2012 chief, has been named as chair of a task force comprised of local leaders and national experts, including Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, and former United captain Gary Neville.

The Glazer family, who remain majority owners of the Premier League club, were conspicuous by their absence from the press release and list of task force members.

The task force “will assess the feasibility of a new stadium of national significance equipped to host international games and finals, as well as providing a modernised home for Manchester United”.

Lord Coe said: “Throughout my career in sport, I have seen the potential for stadiums to become focal points for strong communities and catalysts for social and economic development.

“That was certainly true of the venues we built in east London for the 2012 Olympics, and we are overdue a project of similar scale and ambition in the north of England.

“I am honoured to have this opportunity to share my experience in support of this tremendously exciting project.”

Ratcliffe met local leaders even before his minority stake received ratification last month to discuss the potential for redevelopment of Old Trafford and the surrounding area.

The Ineos chairman met with Burnham during that period and the Mayor of Greater Manchester has hailed the “bold and exciting vision for the future of Old Trafford and the surrounding area.”

“The development of one of the most iconic stadiums in world football will help attract investment, create jobs, and lead to new opportunities that will not just benefit Trafford but communities across our city-region and beyond,” he said.

“Greater Manchester has been a hive of innovation and creativity for centuries, and sport has played a huge role in shaping our past and present.”

An economic impact study will be commissioned as part of a project that will involve close consultation with fans and local residents.

The task force is expected to make recommendations later this year and Neville is excited to be involved in plans for United’s home and the local area.

“I’m incredibly fortunate to have had the privilege of playing hundreds of games at Old Trafford, and no one can take away those amazing memories,” Neville, who co-owns Hotel Football opposite the stadium, said.

“But Old Trafford has evolved throughout its history and it’s clear we are at a point where it has to change again to ensure that Manchester United has a world-class stadium befitting the world’s greatest club.

“While I want the best for Manchester United, I also want the same for the surrounding community.

“Old Trafford should be a stadium that the whole of Greater Manchester can take pride in, and be a catalyst for sustainable, cohesive growth in an area of the city that has been neglected for too long.”

World Athletics president Lord Coe fears fans – and athletes – could be priced out of next summer’s Olympics in Paris.

Coe is concerned over sky-high costs, with tickets for an athletics session at the Stade de France costing as much as £850 on the official Paris 2024 website. The cheapest admission for an evening session is £170.

Athletics remains the number one Olympic sport and, after sell-out crowds at August’s World Championships in Budapest, Coe is mindful of the costs.

“These are going to be the most expensive ticket prices in an athletics arena that we have witnessed at an Olympic Games,” he said. “We asked for a balance.

“The most important element here is you want fans in the stadium, you want fans within affordable prices. I know the challenge on a budget – 25 per cent of our budget in London was tickets.

“Our ticket strategy was built three years before the Games. We knew more about our fans at the end of that. We had some expensive tickets in there but we also had a lot at affordable prices.

“These are difficult balances for any organising committee, but if I am wearing my World Athletics hat, I don’t want fans being costed out of the stadium and I certainly don’t want athletes and their families being costed out of the stadium.

“If you look over the course of an athlete’s career, there are very few athletes that are able to sit down and say they got in commercial
sponsorship more than what their families put in.

“Most are sitting there at the end of a 15-year career and saying it was my families that bore the brunt of what I did, in terms of funding time, commitment and all the things. I want to be respectful for them, so that’s the challenge.

“We have made the point that these prices are lumpy. In Budapest we had very affordable price tickets. Tokyo (2025 World Championships) we will make sure we get the same as well.

“There are always going to be premium tickets, but it is important that our stadiums are full of people that love our sport, not people that can afford to get to an Olympics.”

Coe also said his vote for BBC Sports Personality of the Year on Tuesday evening would go to world heptathlon champion Katarina Johnson-Thompson, who regained her title in Budapest after recovering from a serious Achilles injury.

The 30-year-old has been shortlisted along with England goalkeeper Mary Earps, former cricketer Stuart Broad, jockey Frankie Dettori, tennis player Alfie Hewett and golfer Rory McIlroy, but Coe felt there should also have been a spot for 1500m world champion Josh Kerr.

“It’s a world championship,” Coe said. “Of course I’m going to say this, but this isn’t being remotely disparaging about anyone else on that list. That’s not my issue.

“The issue is that there are two truly global sports; one is football, one is track and field. Both Katarina and Josh Kerr won a world championship in one of the most fiercely competitive sports on the planet.

“Do I think there was room for both of them on that list? Of course I do. There is only Katarina Johnson-Thompson, so of course I’m going to say, as the president of World Athletics, I would be voting for her, because she’s a world champion, it was an extraordinary comeback, and she won a global world championship.”

Athletics world champion Josh Kerr intends to use his disappointment at not being shortlisted for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award as “big motivation” going into the 2024 Paris Olympics.

The 26-year-old Scot won the 1500m title at the World Championships in August after finishing ahead of favourite Jakob Ingebrigtsen in Budapest, an achievement which many thought would earn him a place on the SPOTY list, including World Athletics president Lord Coe.

The list of nominees which was announced on Tuesday included former cricketer Stuart Broad, jockey Frankie Dettori, footballer Mary Earps, wheelchair tennis player Alfie Hewett, golfer Rory McIlroy and Kerr’s fellow athlete Katarina Johnson-Thompson.

Kerr admitted he was “massively disappointed” at not being on the list but thinks it will drive him on to turn the bronze he earned at Tokyo 2020 into a gold in Paris 2024.

He said: “I’ve been honoured in many different ways by a lot of fantastic people but we always think about the ones we didn’t get so it’s big motivation for me.

“Obviously massively disappointed, it’s such a prestigious event and award that I would loved to have been involved in.

“There’s nothing I can do. We are in a cut and dry sport – not a lot of things in my career have been up to other people’s judgement and I’ve always been taught to leave no doubt and obviously I left an element of doubt.

“I’m an Olympic bronze medallist and I’m going to go after that gold medal. I’ve earned everything I got in my career to this point and I’m going to earn the right to be in that conversation and I’ll show that through my performance and mental resilience.”

Team GB team-mate Johnson-Thompson also brought home a gold medal from the 2023 World Championships when a second-placed finish in the 800 metres guaranteed her heptathlon gold.

Kerr had already planned to attend the BBC event but now says he will go and support Johnson-Thompson to win the award ahead of a big year for the sport.

He added: “I will be there to represent athletics but KJT (Johnson-Thompson) had such an amazing comeback from 2019 and I think we are all proud to be there to support her.

“I’m not sitting crying about it, I’m getting out the door and start working for next year but I’ll be there to support her and that’s my job now.

“I was someone that brought a gold medal home for Britain and so was she. I’m excited in supporting her in hopefully winning this next week.

“I was hoping to get my flights covered if I’m honest but I don’t think that’s quite covered this time – I was hoping to be on that shortlist but I’m not, I’m still going to enjoy that experience.”

Kerr’s attention now switches to the Paris Games where he will look to earn another gold medal next August, and can take huge confidence from his win in Budapest after beating Tokyo Olympic gold medallist Ingebrigtsen of Norway to the world title.

He said: “I known I’ve always had the capabilities of being the best in the world but having the ability to do it and not just say I’m good enough… I’ve been in all these finals and not quite been able to do it so it’s nice to have one in the bag knowing my mind and body are capable of that big moment.

“I’m thinking like a champion and my life is getting structured like a world champion so instead of thinking I’m good enough, I’m just going to be on that roadmap to success!

“I’ve had this Olympic circle for a long time and I knew at age 26 I will be at the peak of my career in the 1500m and this would be the one so I’m excited to continue that dream.”

World Athletics president Lord Sebastian Coe believes “real deal” Keely Hodgkinson and sprint star Zharnel Hughes are Great Britain’s best bets for World Championship glory.

Hodgkinson missed out on the world 800 metres title by just 0.08 seconds to American Athing Mu last year and also finished second behind the same athlete at the Toyko Olympics in 2021.

The 21-year-old has been in excellent form this season, setting a world best indoors over 600m in January and defending her European indoor title before beginning her outdoor season by lowering her British record in Paris.

Hughes has enjoyed arguably even better preparation for Budapest, the Anguilla-born star breaking the 30-year-old British records of Linford Christie and John Regis over 100 and 200m respectively in the space of a month.

His 100m time of 9.83 seconds, recorded in New York in June, remains the fastest in the world this year.

Asked if Hughes’s performances had earned the respect of the top sprinting nations and could lead to gold in Budapest, Coe said: “Yes and yes.

“I can give you the feedback from the cradle of sprinting and the NACAC congress in Costa Rica last month.

“People whose judgement I really value, both in Jamaican sprinting and US sprinting, think he can win in Budapest simply because it may not be that fast a race anyway. Their judgement is that he is absolutely a contender.

“The more people coming on the scene and fighting their way into the upper echelons of the sport is terrific and for British sprinting it’s not just a good thing, it’s an important thing.

“And those were good records; John Regis’s 200m record was one for the ages when he set it.”

Hodgkinson has tasted just one defeat over 800m so far in 2023, finishing second behind Kenya’s Mary Moraa, the Commonwealth champion, in Lausanne.

“I think she’s the real deal, I’ve thought that for some time,” added Coe, who also feels Dina Asher-Smith and Katarina Johnson-Thompson will challenge for medals in Budapest.

“At the age of 19 winning a silver in a world championships, similar type of performance at an Olympic Games, she’s outstanding. She’s coached well, she’s grounded and she’s talented.

“She is at this moment in great shape and this is where we’re beginning to see some strength in depth with Jemma Reekie running 1:57 in London. We’ve got depth now and genuine quality and this is encouraging.”

Coe reiterated that no Russian or Belarusian athletes would be competing in Budapest following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a stance that World Athletics is set to maintain for next year’s Olympic Games.

“We’ve taken the view they won’t be in Paris,” Coe said. “We made the decision that we felt was in the best interests of the sport.

“Decisions we’ve made in the past have been tough ones, whether it’s around preserving the female category, transfers of allegiance, the initial suspension of Russia back in 2015 – we’ve done it because it’s been the right thing to do.

“If it has given other sports permission or comfort to feel that they can do the same then that’s a good thing but it’s entirely up to them – we didn’t do it for that reason.

“The nature of these decisions is that the world does change. We are also creating working groups to monitor the situation so we aren’t closing the door forever.

“We’re not the ‘computer says no’ federation and we’ve always, if we could, found the navigable route through.”

The World Athletics Council has decided to postpone the World Athletics Relays Guangzhou 23, scheduled for 13-14 May 2023, until April/May 2025 (exact dates to be confirmed).

Due to the ongoing pandemic conditions, this decision was taken with the agreement of the Guangzhou organising committee (LOC) and the Chinese Athletics Association (CAA).

The decision to delay the World Athletics Relays impacts the qualification system for the relay events at the World Athletics Championships Budapest 23. Therefore, the World Athletics Competition Commission, upon approval of the Council, has revised the qualification system to include the top eight teams from the World Athletics Championships Oregon22 and the top eight teams from the performance lists.

The philosophy is to replicate a similar qualification system by still qualifying part of the field through direct competition and part through performance in the qualification period.

Details of the changes to the Budapest qualification system are outlined here.

World Athletics President Sebastian Coe said: “It is regrettable when we have to postpone an event. However, World Athletics and the local organising committee are committed to the responsible planning and delivery of the World Athletics Relays, which includes ensuring that athletes from all international federations can participate in and enjoy an experience in a safe and healthy environment.

“I want to thank our colleagues at the Chinese Athletics Association and the LOC for their efforts and cooperation in resolving this situation and look forward to 2025 when our hosts are able to stage a spectacular World Athletics Relays.”

The host of the 2024 World Athletics Relays is set to be awarded by the World Athletics Council at their meeting in Rome, Italy, on 30 November.

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