Better quality, more facilities, greater coverage of athletics in the media and on television and more athletics in schools are emerging as key drivers of growing athletics across the world. That’s according to early findings in the Global Conversation, the survey currently being conducted by World Athletics that will shape the future direction of the sport for the next decade.
The survey, which went live at the end of March and will run until the end of April, has so far had more than 10,000 responses from people in 141 countries spread across all six continental areas.
To date, almost 1000 professional athletes have completed the survey. 27% of them feel that a lack of facilities is the single biggest challenge in growing the sport in their country.
Fifty-five percent of coaches strongly agree that athletics is the most accessible sport and the best activity to help create a healthier and fitter world.
People identifying primarily as an amateur athlete make up the biggest demographic so far. When asked what would attract more athletics fans to the sport, greater coverage of the sport in the media and on television outside of major championships came out on top.
Fans have also expressed a desire to see more coverage in the media with 33 percent saying the lack of media and television coverage is the biggest challenge to attracting new fans to athletics. Across all demographics, greater coverage in the school curriculum is the leading solution so far for attracting more athletics fans.
Responses to the Global Conversation will help to give World Athletics a clear understanding of the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead and how the athletics community envisions the present and future of the sport. Through this open stakeholder-centric project, World Athletics wants to drive a fruitful conversation by asking people to embrace the chance to speak up and help to bring further significant and necessary changes and developments to the number one Olympic sport.
On the Global Conversation, World Athletics President Sebastian Coe said: “In just under 100 days’ time, athletics will be in the global spotlight on sports’ biggest stage, the Olympic Games. The past year has been challenging for everyone, and in athletics we have dearly missed the in-person interaction we have with our special fans. By initiating the Global Conversation for the Future of Athletics, we want to give everybody involved in athletics, no matter their background, location or athletic ability, the opportunity to have their voice heard, and help shape our future together.
“Fundamentally, we believe in the crucial role of athletics in promoting and cultivating a healthier and fitter lifestyle for everyone and anyone. By listening to all members of our diverse community, we will be fully able to understand the challenges and opportunities that we have going forward, in Tokyo and beyond.”
The findings will be used to devise the World Plan for Athletics 2022-2030, a key document for all involved in the sport, setting out a roadmap for the growth and development of athletics through to 2030.
Its purpose is to listen to the athletics community, to identify where the sport stands now throughout the world, and to establish a vision and direction for the period through to 2030, setting out how both World Athletics, its Member Federations and Area Associations, and other people involved in athletics can work together to develop and grow the sport across the world. The plan will contain clear roles and responsibilities, timelines, measurable outcomes and resource and budget implications.
A draft plan will be developed for presentation to the World Athletics Council mid-year. Once accepted, a final plan will be distributed to the Member Federations for formal approval at the biennial World Athletics Congress in November 2021.
The process is being overseen by the World Plan Working Group, which comprises seven Council Members, chaired by former triple jump world record-holder Willie Banks, assisted by the Sports Business Group at Deloitte.