When the IAAF Council announced its significantly more strict Olympic entry standards for Tokyo 2020 on March 10th, and also changes to its Diamond League Tour, also for 2020 – essentially eliminating distance races over 3000m – the response from around the running world came fast and (mostly) furious.
Perhaps most chagrined was Rich Kenah, Executive Director of the Atlanta Track Club, who will host the U.S. Olympic Marathon Team Trials next February 20th. In wake of the strict new Olympic entry standards, the Atlanta Trials may not have much practical meaning in Olympic team selection anymore.
This whole Olympic entry standards tightening didn’t happen in a vacuum, of course; it came at the request of the IOC, which, since the Olympics returned to the Modern Era in 1896, has used the sport of athletics as its center-stage attraction. But now, as the sporting landscape has erupted with many more new sports looking for Olympic inclusion, the IOC doesn’t need as much from the sport of athletics as they once did.
It reminds me somewhat of when ESPN grew into the cable TV Hulk that came define an era. Here’s how. (more…)