Bubka wants business closer to athletics if elected IAAF chief

Wed Apr 8, 2015 10:25am EDT
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By Karolos Grohmann

(Reuters) - Sergey Bubka said he would review the flagship world championships, appoint a CEO for the sport and attract new global sponsors if elected president of governing body IAAF later this year.

The former world record pole vaulter, who faces another former Olympic champion in Briton Seb Coe in a bid for the top seat, said he wanted the sport to operate more as a business.

"We are very fortunate to be the number one Olympic sport," said the 1988 Olympic champion who, like Coe, is an IAAF Vice President, in a conference call from Kiev on Wednesday after announcing his manifesto.

"At the heart of my program is the most intensive review of athletics that should be done, to make athletics more exciting and more attractive.

"It is my intention to overcome some challenges. How we can engage the youth, how to support (national federations) with innovation, financial support to make them more successful."

When Bubka and Coe were competing athletics attracted huge TV audiences and often dominated the back pages of newspapers around the world.

Thirty years on, the sport is fighting to make a connection with the next generation.

A shortage of recognizable personalities, an aging audience, a confusing calendar, a continuing struggle to attract interest in the United States and the dark shadow of doping has left athletics fighting for a foothold in an ever-more crowded sporting and leisure landscape.   Continued...