Exclusive: Athletics has number of competitors cut for Rio 2016

Monday, 25 November 2013
By Duncan Mackay

A record number of athletes competed at London 2012 but the figure will be cut for Rio 2016 ©Getty ImagesNovember 25 - Athletics has had the number of competitors allowed to take part in the Olympics at Rio 2016 reduced by more than 200, it has been revealed. 

A record 2,231 athletes competed at London 2012 but the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has capped the figure for Rio 2016 at 2,000.

Athletics will be the only sport to have its numbers for Rio 2016 cut from London 2012.

"It is no problem for us and this has been done in consultation with us and with our full support," International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) deputy general secretary Nick Davies told insidethegames.

"London was an aberration as the AAF has always accepted 2,000 as our Olympic quota."

Sebastian Coe, vice-president of the IAAF and former chairman of London 2012, also claimed that he understood the IOC's decision even it means that, if they stick it to strictly, it will be the lowest number of athletes to take in an Olympics since Barcelona 1992 when there were 1,725.

"If I'm being honest, we were over-quoted in London, so it's back to what it should have been really so I think we are fairly relaxed about it," he told insidethegames.

IAAF vice-president Sebastian Coe claims that he is "relaxed" that athletics has had its quota for Rio 2016 cut by 200 from the number who competed at London 2012 @Getty ImagesIAAF vice-president Sebastian Coe claims he is "relaxed" that athletics has had its quota for Rio 2016 cut by 200 from the number who competed at London 2012
©Getty Images


But the cut in the number of athletes able to compete at Rio 2016 will reinforce fears that athletics' status as the Olympics number one sport is slowly being eroded. 

Earlier this year the IOC's ruling Executive Board drew up a new revenue sharing scheme for the 28 sports that will make up the Olympic programme in Rio 2016 that saw aquatics and gymnastics promoted to the top tier alongside athletics.

Previously, the IAAF was ranked alone in the highest of four groups and received the biggest share of the hundreds of millions of dollars generated from television rights and other deals from each Summer Games.

Under the revised formula announced by then IOC President Jacques Rogge, swimming's world governing body FINA and the World Gymnastics Federation join the IAAF in Group A.

The IAAF received about $45 million (£28 million/€33 million) from the total of $520 million (£321 million/€384 million) in revenues shared among the Federations from London 2012 but will earn less from Rio 2016.

Coe, though, insisted that athletics remains the number one Olympic sport.

"There are some philosophical issues about sharing number one status that we need to establish," he told insidethegames.

"I'm from athletics and that is something that we hold dear."

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