Coe wants new rules on ‘flags of con­ve­nience’

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE -

THE president of ath­let­ics’ world gov­ern­ing body the IAAF has vowed to con­tinue ef­forts to stop ath­letes switch­ing na­tion­al­ity and com­pet­ing un­der “flags of con­ve­nience”.

Speak­ing in Lon­don, Se­bas­tian Coe said that ath­letes needed to have a strong con­nec­tion to the coun­try they are rep­re­sent­ing, rather than look­ing around for na­tions to run for.

“We have wit­nessed in the last few years the chang­ing shape of our sport which at its best is a cham­pi­onship-based sport (where) the best ath­letes com­pet­ing against each other with na­tional iden­tity,” he said on Fri­day.

“I can’t have a sit­u­a­tion where I’ve got fed­er­a­tion pres­i­dents re­port­ing to me that most morn­ings they are wak­ing up to emails with names of ath­letes look­ing for flags of con­ve­nience.”

Un­like other sports such as soc­cer, ath­let­ics has al­lowed its com­peti­tors to switch na­tion­al­i­ties, even after they have rep­re­sented one coun­try at in­ter­na­tional level.

Sev­eral dozen ath­letes changed al­le­giance on the eve of last year’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

In Fe­bru­ary this year, the IAAF placed an im­me­di­ate stop on changes of na­tion­al­ity by ath­letes and has set up a work­ing group to come up with new rules.

Coe said although there should be some “le­git­i­mate and gen­uine” chances for ath­letes to switch, he wanted the process to be “a lot tougher”.

“It can’t be done on the ba­sis that just two fed­er­a­tions agree and an ath­lete sud­denly ap­pears in a com­pletely dif­fer­ent uni­form to the one they were run­ning in six weeks ago,” he added.

● Brazil should be given more time to de­liver in­fra­struc­ture promised as its Rio Olympics legacy, the head of the In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee said yes­ter­day.

Thomas Bach said Brazil’s eco­nomic cri­sis was one fac­tor weigh­ing on progress and avoided crit­i­cis­ing the sit­u­a­tion in Rio where many venues sit idle and a new metro line does not ex­tend to the main Olympic Park.

“You have to take into ac­count the ex­tremely dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tion in Brazil which is the worst cri­sis this coun­try has ever gone through,” Bach told re­porters.

“In such a sit­u­a­tion, not all the legacy plans are com­ing to fruition ... in the time they were planned for. “

Bach pointed out that the Bri­tish cap­i­tal’s Olympic park was closed for a year after the 2012 Games. “We have to be fair there with the Brazil­ians,” he said. – Reuters

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