World Athletics President Sebastian Coe on Monday claimed that more people took to running to stay fit during the coronavirus-forced lockdown, something his sport can capitalise on once the world is back to being normal.
Coe said athletics can benefit from the new-found habit of more people taking to walking and running and his sport will try to build on it to broaden its base.
“We are uniquely placed to help local, regional and national health objectives. Research has shown that throughout the lockdown, more people are exercising than before. Some research even say there is 80 per cent increase at the global exercise pattern,” he said at an online media seminar organised by Asian Athletics Federation.
“Athletics is the main beneficiary because people are doing exercise through running or walking. That is a very big asset. We will not take it for granted but will try to build on it in the post pandemic period. We will be allowing more young people aceess to our sport,” he added.
He said that athletics is one of the better-placed sports amid the pandemic in terms of communication and engagement among the officials as well as the athletes.
“As we come out of the pandemic, the world will be a complicated place. I believe our sport is stronger, better connected, communicating better, more creative and more ingenious. We will come out stronger and with more fortitude than ever before.”
The 63-year-old Coe said that during the lockdown period, his organisation has been able to bring in three partners on the table, inclduing two from the commercial world.
He also mentioned about the tie-up with Parkrun Global Limited, a UK-based charity that organises runs at weekends and leisure time.
Coe, a double Olympic gold medallist in 1500m, also made it clear that his organisation is committed to ensuring Russia comply with the sanctions imposed on it for mass doping.
“Russia has been a big challenge confronted by our sport in the last five years. I hope (we have) now agreed on a fresh reinstatement process.
“We are still very committed to ensure that they (Russia) meet the sanction that was agreed to. We have re-instatement programme that allows us to be absolutely comfortable. We have a credible reinstatement report and hopefully we can make further progress.”
The World Athletics Council in its July 30 meeting had decided to expel the Russian Federation (RusAF) from membership if it does not make the outstanding payments of a USD 5 million fine and USD 1.31 million in costs before August 15.
The Russian federation has been suspended for nearly five years over mass doping, and missed a July 1 deadline to pay millions of dollars to World Athletics as a fine for breaching anti-doping rules.