Athletics: Kenya slams 'illegitimate' IAAF scrapping of 5,000m in Diamond League

Kenya's Emmanuel Kipkurui Korir winning the 800m at the IAAF Diamond League Final in Brussels on Aug 31, 2018. Kenya and Ethiopia will be the main teams affected by the scrapping of the 5,000m, with 3,000m being the longest event.
Kenya's Emmanuel Kipkurui Korir winning the 800m at the IAAF Diamond League Final in Brussels on Aug 31, 2018. Kenya and Ethiopia will be the main teams affected by the scrapping of the 5,000m, with 3,000m being the longest event. PHOTO: REUTERS

NAIROBI (AFP) - Athletics Kenya (AK) on Thursday (March 14) lambasted a decision by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) to scrap the 5,000 metres from the Diamond League programme as "illegitimate".

Kenyan and Ethiopian athletes have dominated the middle- and long-distance running events, including the 5,000m, since the 1968 Mexico Olympic Games.

On Monday, the IAAF said it had approved major changes to Diamond League events in a bid to revitalise the format, including reducing the number of events.

From next year, the longest distance track race in a Diamond League meeting will be 3,000m.

The IAAF has also decided to scrap the men's and women's 10,000m and women's 5,000m races from the 2020 IAAF World Under-20 Championships to be hosted in Nairobi.

"The move is illegitimate and ostensibly targets African nations," AK committee member Barnabas Korir wrote in his weekly column for the Daily Nation newspaper.

"The Confederation of African Athletics (CAA) must protect us from this calculated move to kill athletics on the continent in the guise of 'tailor-making events for television'."

AK chief Jackson Tuwei told the Daily Nation the move was "totally unfair to our athletes" and he would raise the issue at the African Athletics Confederation (AAC) Congress in Abidjan, Ivory Coast next month.

Jon Ridgeon, the British former sprint hurdler who has chaired a working group looking at the Diamond League reforms, admitted that "change is never easy".