By Mitch Phillips
LONDON (Reuters) - World Athletics is launching an innovative plan asking for everyone connected to and interested in the sport to play a part in moulding its long-term future via a massive worldwide survey.
Termed the "Global Conversation" the sport's world governing body wants to consult with federations, athletes, coaches, officials, fans, meeting directors, partners and media to plan a roadmap for how the sport will look from 2022-2030.
"I think this a great moment to have this conversation to see where we are and how we can be more relevant," World Athletics president Sebastian Coe told Reuters.
Athletics is the number one Olympic sport and in all its forms has more participants than any other.
But there is a perception of a disconnect between the elite level, where the confusing Diamond League series struggles for TV audiences, performances are clouded by controversial shoe technology and doping cases undermine the sport's credibility, and recreational running where participation has never higher.
Coe feels the sport can play a greater role in improving the global health picture and, as the world emerges from the COVID-19 epidemic, wants to ensure that athletics is "part of the conversation" at government level.
"We are embarking on an unprecedented Global Conversation with all those who love our sport and want to have a say in its future," he said. "I want to encourage everyone who cares about athletics to contribute their views during this process.
"Our strength as a sport lies in the diversity of our community and we need to hear the voices of all of our 214 members and our key stakeholder groups to develop a plan that fully represents our global aspirations for athletics and will help us to grow and thrive together over the coming years."
The process begins on Monday with a two-month period of global consultation titled, “Your Voice, Our Future”. The results will be collated and presented to the sport's Council with a view for eventual approval at November's Congress.
The "Global Conversation" will comprise two online surveys – one to be completed by the Member Federations and the second by any person interested in the sport of athletics and wishing to contribute to its future direction.
The stakeholder survey, which will be individually tailored to each interest group, will primarily be distributed through the Member Federations and will request responses to questions on a range of topics including the perception of athletics, participation in the sport, governance, development, innovation, fan engagement, social campaigning and partnerships.
The process is being overseen by the World Plan Working Group, which comprises seven Council Members, chaired by American former triple jump world record-holder Willie Banks, assisted by the Sports Business Group at Deloitte.
(Reporting by Mitch Phillips; editing by Ken Ferris)