DIAMOND LEAGUE EXTENDED TO 2019 DESPITE NO TITLE SPONSOR
By Chris Lotsbom, @ChrisLotsbom
(08-May) -- On Thursday --one day prior to the start of the 2014 IAAF Diamond League circuit-- IAAF President Lamine Diack announced the series of elite track and field meetings will continue for the next five years until 2019 despite not currently having a title sponsor.
"The IAAF Diamond League is a valuable asset for the IAAF," said President Diack, speaking from Doha, Qatar, home of tomorrow's season opening Diamond League contest. "Therefore I am delighted to announce that the IAAF has agreed a new contract with the 14 meeting organizations which will ensure the IAAF's continued support of the series to at least 2019."
The IAAF has reported that the decision to extend the Diamond League to 2019 was agreed upon during a special General Assembly held recently in Zurich. The International Association of Athletics Federations did not elaborate on when the General Assembly was held, nor who was in attendance.
Since its inception in 2010, the Diamond League --the successor to has become the premier circuit for professional track and field, boasting worldwide television coverage and high profile contests on three continents. Meets are held routinely throughout Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and the United States.
While the Diamond League is the most visible venue in professional track and field outside of the Olympics and World Championships, it does lack a title sponsor. After extending their sponsorship of the Diamond League in January, 2012 for one season, Korean technology company Samsung ended its partnership with the Diamond League in April of 2013, a month before the 2013 Diamond League series began. Samsung had sponsored the Diamond League since it began in 2010; their sponsorship agreement was reported to have been around £3 million a year (USD 5.1MM) according to Simon Hart of The Telegraph.
In April of 2013, IAAF Deputy General Secretary Nick Davies told InsideTheGames.com that "We are in discussions with various possible replacements for Samsung."
In the following twelve months, no replacement sponsor has been announced.
"While there remain many challenges ahead, the IAAF firmly believes that we have made an exceptionally good start in the first four years," said Diack, who will be retiring in 2015. "The IAAF Diamond League offers the best of athletics entertainment outside the World Championships and Olympic Games."
According to the IAAF, an estimated global television audience of 265 million viewers across 135 countries watched the Diamond League in 2013.
It appears Diack did not address any possibilities of the Diamond League expanding to those continents which do not currently host a meet: Africa, South America, or Australia.
On Friday, the IAAF Diamond League meet in Doha will see more than 50 medalists from either the Olympic Games or World Championships compete. From there, the Diamond League will make stops in Shanghai, Eugene, Ore., Rome, Oslo, and New York before heading to Europe for the remaining eight contests. The season culminates in Brussels, Belgium on September 5.