Hindustan Times, New Delhi
The Asian Athletics Association (AAA) plans to introduce prize money for the 2021 continental meet to ensure top athletes from the region do not skip meets in their backyard to compete on the lucrative European circuit.
The continental meet is scheduled for May next year in China. “The money is to ensure top Asian athletes don’t skip the meets to compete on the highly competitive and lucrative European circuit,” CK Valson, AAA’s Indian competition director, said on phone from Bangkok.
Qatar’s Asian record holder in high jump (2.43m) Mutaz Essa Barshim and China’s Su Bingtian, the first Asian to run the 100m under 10 secs—he clocked 9.91 secs in 2018—skipped the 2017 Asian championships in Bhubaneswar.
The World Athletics guidelines for the continental tour say the gold label one-day competition will have a prize purse of $200,000 with silver label events offering $75,000. “Live broadcast is mandatory to give more visibility to the athletes. The competitions will have valuable points to help achieve qualification for the World Athletics Championships that has been shifted to 2022 from 2021 as is was overlapping with the 2021 Tokyo Olympics,” Valson said.
China, Japan and Taipei will stage most of the continental events in 2021.
“The emphasis is to make the area competition more attractive. The minimum capacity of the stadium (on competition day) should be 5,000 and 60% must be the attendance. It would be help make a major shift in athletics.”
The schedule has been disrupted this season due to the Covid-19 pandemic. AAA has cancelled the inaugural continental relay championships scheduled on June 6 in China and the Asian half-marathon at Shanghai on July 19.
AAA cancelled the Asian Indoor Championship in February and the cross country championships in March. The Junior Asian meet scheduled in Bangkok this month was also called off. “The calendar has been ruined because of the spread of the virus,” said Valson, the former AFI secretary-general.
Next year’s Asian calendar would be finalised after the national units send their schedules, he added.
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