On the optional list: 100m, relays, throws?

BENGALURU: As the athletics world exchanges ideas and innovates to get back into action, World athletics President Sebastian Coe hinted at the new normal in athletics you can even see 100m , relays and shooting on the optional list of competition managers.

On a video chat from London with a select group of Indian journalists, Coe said it will not look like the traditional track and field meetings for a few months. "But I think we can give some action (to the athletes) so that they can come out into the next season with some competitions behind them," Coe said.

The WA chief said that the first competitions can take place behind closed doors, as it is important for athletes to compete again.

Asked about ensuring the safety of athletes in events like relays and shooting , Coe said the WA working group headed by Stephane Bermon, director, health and science department is trying to find a way out.

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"They are to look into the safe conduct of our endurance events and long distance gatherings. You can if you are smart - whether it is equipment being sanitized in javelin or shot put. You can do this better in an individual sport than in a contact sport like football or rugby. We are trying to figure out how we can do this and do it safely," Coe said.

Conveys a concern

"If we have to get relays back into competition then we will have to think about all these things. Baton going from hand to hand could be a source of infection. We need to innovate. The Italian Federation send me an idea on how we could organize an 800m with a staggered start. All these are possible. I accept that relay will cause a particular issue, we have to see whether they can wear skin tight gloves. I’m sure are there are ways around it. So we will figure out how to do a relay," an optimistic Coe said.

Coe said compared to team sports "we have the advantage of being more creative. The Ultimate Garden Challenge and the planning of the Bislett Games shows us that it is possible with social distancing. It is not a sustainable product but it certainly allows us to show athletics alive, well and creative," he added.

Now we have many cities interested in organizing events from August to October. But there is no certainty of any of these. But it was important to create a structure to see the rest of the season going.

Asked specifically about the conduct of the 100m dash, Coe said: I don't know the answer but the focus is what is safe for the athletes. We will do nothing that will endanger the athletes.

Coe was excited about the growing popularity of athletics even during the shutdown. We had a quarter of a million people watching the Garden Challenge live feed during the first half hour of the competition. We had a combined reach of 100 million. Athletics is back, in a bit of a weird format, but I'm excited for that.

Federation of Athletics of India President Adille Sumariwala, who joined the meeting from Mumbai, said it is still not clear whether the first Indian Grand Prix events will be held behind closed doors or only for campers. "We don't know as yet as the situation is fluid. One thing is sure that our athletes won't travel abroad to take part in international meets. Preferably, they may not even go out of the camps,” he said.

Expressing concern over the reduced number of drug tests that hold a key to WA's clean sports efforts, Coe said there will be a greater focus on athletes' biological passports to catch the tricks.