By Nick Butler

Eight Rio 2016 Olympic athletics finals will be held in the morning in the João Havelange Stadium ©Wikimedia CommonsAthletics finals at an Olympic Games will be held in the morning for the first time in 28 years at Rio 2016, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has announced.

The decision, made during the IAAF Council meeting in Monte Carlo, has been taken to maximise international coverage, and will see 13 of the 47 athletics events have morning finals, including eight in the João Havelange Stadium and all five road events. 

Of the eight in the Stadium, there will be an even split between genders as well as between track and field events, with one final in each of the six morning sessions held and at least one final in the morning on nine out of the 10 days of athletics competition.

"Staging finals in the morning was done at the request of the Rio Local Organising Committee and the Olympic Broadcasting Service, supported by the International Olympic Committee (IOC)," said IAAF Competitions Director Paul Hardy.

"Having finals in the morning will also ensure that we receive maximum visibility for athletics at the Olympics across all time zones."

The women's 10,000m final, won by Tirunesh Dibaba of Ethiopia in the evening at London 2012, will be the first morning final in the Stadium at Rio 2016 ©AFP/Getty ImagesThe women's 10,000m final, won by Tirunesh Dibaba of Ethiopia in the evening at London 2012, will be the first morning final in the Stadium at Rio 2016 ©AFP/Getty Images

The first morning final will be the women's 10,000m on the opening day of athletics action, it was added, with the IAAF "obviously hoping that this will be an exciting race and set the tone for the whole of the athletics programme in Rio".

Hardy added: "Our prevailing view was that the leading distance runners will welcome this change to the athletics programme at the Olympics as they will often have competitions throughout the year in the morning, such as road or cross country races, and so will be accustomed to this timing".

It is not yet clear whether other eagerly anticipated finals, such as the men and women's 100m showdowns, will be among the other seven, or if it will exclusively involve distance events, but the IAAF have promised a full detailed competition programme will be "released shortly". 

Although athletics finals have not been held in the morning since Seoul 1988, there is a long recent history of events being shifted to accommodate television interests, with athletics events at Beijing 2008 held late at night to satisfy European and American viewers.

This is also something muted for the swimming events at Rio 2016, with American broadcaster NBC suggesting finals be held between 10pm and midnight in order to go our at peak time for US viewers.

Australia's four-time Olympic champion Libby Trickett has fiercely criticised this plan, calling it "ridiculous" and describing how, a "2am lights out and a 7am start [to prepare for morning heats] would be a killer for many athletes engaged in action on multiple days". 

She has called on NBC, the IOC and Rio 2016 organisers to be "respectful and mindful of the athletes" when scheduling the programme."

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