Inside Lines: Trouble-shooter Coe now on a mission to save world athletics
Sunday 30 May 2010
He is already masterminding the biggest event in British sporting history and has been brought in to help rescue England's 2018 World Cup bid, but now there are growing calls for London's ubiquitous Olympic Games chief, Lord Coe, to take on yet another major task: running world athletics. Coe is seriously considering a challenge to the 77-year-old Senegalese judge Lamine Diack, the current president of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). He is being urged on by support from at least 35 countries in Europe, Asia and the Americas who, like Coe himself, fear that athletics is not only lacking financial stability but losing touch with the younger generation. He says these are matters "which need to be urgently addressed" by the sport closest to his heart. According to leading website
insidethegames.com, Diack is prepared to take on anyone who stands against him at next year's elections in South Korea. Contenders could include Coe's fellow vice-president Sergey Bubka, the ambitious former Ukrainian pole vault star, and Nawal El Moutawakel, the 1984 Olympic 400m hurdles champion. Yesterday Diack announced that the IAAF are to cut their global budget by $20m (£13.8m). This followed a crucial council meeting in Monte Carlo which Coe was unable to attend because of a chest infection, and there is some concern that the busiest man in world sport may be in danger of overstretching himself.
Round the bend
Talking of budget cuts – and who isn't? – the London mayor Boris Johnson tells us he will insist that International Olympic Committee and VIP top brass share the burden of the £27m sliced off London's 2012's funding by using public transport where possible rather than the chauffeured limos they are used to. We ventured to suggest that Jacques Rogge on his way to the Olympic Stadium in a bendy bus will be a sight to behold. "There won't be any bendy buses by then," said Bojo. "But the tube service will be excellent."
It's your move, Jacques
The chairman of Russia's Olympic Committee reckons it is time chess was added to the Olympic programme. Alexander Zhukov says he will be putting pressure on the IOC president Rogge for its inclusion, adding: "Regrettably, the IOC doesn't want to add that sport to the Olympic programme, but we will insist." Seems Mr Zhukov, a Kremlin cabinet member, is making the sort of offer that sounds more in keeping with the Russian mafia. It is to be hoped that it will be refused, even if there are some who would like to see the Games become more cerebral. But if they ever allow chess, where will it end? Scrabble? Backgammon? Poker? How about a spot of Sudoku? If squash can't get in because it apparently lacks televisual appeal, what chance should chess have?
Who's making Haye?
Frank Warren knows he is taking a risk when he stages the Sky-televised British welterweight title fight between Michael Jennings and John O'Donnell at Preston's Guild Hall on Saturday 3 July. For that night, there could be a serious rival attraction; England in a World Cup quarter-final. "If that happens, we'll put up big screens around the venue to show it," says the promoter, who shares our astonishment that David Haye's next fight is unlikely to be against either of the Klitschkos but – wait for it – Audley Harrison.
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