TheETG Position Statement:
Time for Track & Field to leave the Olympic Games
Its been a decade or so since some in our sport, quite wisely in my view, started discussing the subject of making our World Track & Field Championships a stand-alone focus of the sport. Doing so by making a formal separation from the Olympic Games. Achieving this by limiting participation of Track & Field athletes in the Olympics to athletes under 20 or 22 years of age.
Perhaps several issues with the Olympic Games is the universe telling us to get on with it.
Too expensive to host. Too expensive to attend. Ticket prices out of reach of the average citizen of the host country. Fewer country’s making serious bids.
Expensive venues sitting idle after the Games are over.
In the last 50 years the Olympic Games has been a blessing and a curse for our sport. The world stage every 4 years was the blessing. The rules of amateurism and branding issues were the curse. And in the United States in the 1970s when the NFL, NBA, and Major League Baseball were reaching escape velocity via sport promotions, branding, and athlete pay, we in Track & Field were stuck with the Olympics as a ball-and-chain around our neck. Branded in the public’s mind as a once every 4 years sport. All narratives being that any athlete training must be training for “the Olympics”, in the process of being an “Olympic hopeful”. So attached to the Olympic Games were we that we didn’t even have a World Championship.
We have a World Track & Field Championships. Even the first one in 1983 was worthy of being branded as -the- best track meet on earth. At some point we’re probably gonna have to end our codependent relationship with the International Olympic Committee and the Olympic Games. To be a stand-alone sport with a stand-alone championship. Maybe this is a good time to assert the World Championships, an event we control, to be the sole focus and stand-alone Championship at the top of our sport.