Nebiolo aims to improve product

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The Independent Online
Primo Nebiolo, president of the International Amateur Athletic Federation, aims to streamline the grand prix circuit from 1998 to put quality before quantity.

Nebiolo stressed the 1997 circuit, including two events in Britain, on 15 and 29 June, would be the last in its present form. "We don't have difficulty with having great meetings on the grand prix," Nebiolo told a Dublin news conference after the IAAF's annual calendar meeting. "The difficulty is to limit the number, and if it will be possible, to have a great super league."

Nebiolo did not outline the format of a super league, but he is believed to want a smaller circuit of elite meetings. "We must find new ways of packaging and presenting the circuit so as to stimulate the public, the media and the sponsors," he said. "The IAAF is studying a new concept and philosophy for the 1998 grand prix and the grand prix commission will meet again in April to discuss and propose details."

Next year prize-money will be available for the first time at the World Indoor Championships, scheduled for Paris from 7 to 9 March and at the outdoor event in Athens from 1 to 10 August.

About pounds 2.67m will be on offer at the grand prix final in Fukuoka, Japan, on 13 September, the first time the final has been staged outside Europe since the circuit started 11 years ago. "We want to offer a certain opportunity to the athletes," Nebiolo said. "This is not professionalism - professionalism implies a given salary and a guaranteed pension. We don't have the resources for that, but we can't forget the athletes."

Commonwealth Games organisers have put back the athletics schedule at the 1998 Kuala Lumpur Games' by two days to avoid a clash with the Johannesburg World Cup. The programme will now start on 16 September, three days after the three-day World Cup ends.

Grand prix calendar, Digest, page 27