This is part 3 with Jo Coates speakig on the British Championships….
The British Championships
The British Championships are scheduled for Friday 4 and Saturday 5 September with both sessions live on BBC, free to air, television. Originally scheduled for June as the Olympic Trials and then postponed to August – still with a trials element with selection for the European Championships. With no Olympics and no European Championships, the event lost its “trials” title and was postponed a second time in the hope that by September some UK Covid restrictions would have been changed.
Sadly, that is not the case and the event, being held in Manchester because the normal venue, The Alexander Stadium in Birmingham, is being rebuilt, will be without any spectators. Live TV coverage is a bonus.
Asked how confident, she was that the event could go ahead, Jo Coates, CEO of UK Athletics, said: “At the moment cancellation isn’t being spoken about at all. We are meeting Manchester City Council on a weekly basis and they are still very confident that it will go ahead because of the planning and scenario planning that’s going on. We haven’t yet decided on what the event schedule might look like. The measures we have put in place are extensive, as you might imagine, but we are limiting the amount of staff there and there will not be any guests obviously. We are still very positive – we have had no negative feedback from Manchester.
She added that for athletes and officials, there would be: “very strict guidelines and if they break them, it will be taken extremely seriously. We have had lots of communication with athletes. We are assuring them it will be a safe environment, so we are hopeful that they don’t behave like that. Athletes are asking us intelligent questions about what the environment will look like, but we will take it seriously, if any athletes or our staff break the rules”.
Coates acknowledged that the Friday night clash with the Brussels Van Damme Diamond League was unfortunate, but the constraints were when the stadium was available and finding dates which worked for the live TV broadcast.
She added that even with the likes of Katerina Johnson-Thompson and Mo Farah competing in Brussels, “there are still going to be some fantastic athletes there and the quality of the event will be exceptional. This is athletics coming out of a dark time. There hasn’t been much live TV sport, and this is our sport. Yes, we are disappointed but is going to be some fantastic athletics going on and we hope that everyone will tune in that night to watch it”.
Looking ahead to the 20201 indoor season she stressed: “We definitely want our fans back. It is one of our biggest income streams. We need ticket revenues, so I absolutely want fans back. A lot of the work we want to do is about growing our audience. We have got loads of insight which tells us who are current fans are. We need to make sure that there’s a lot more people watching athletics, not just the hardcore athletics fans.
“We need indoor events. We need the indoor trials. Athletes absolutely want them. And we want to do an indoor Grand Prix but I have to be honest that we cannot do those events behind closed doors. We can’t afford to do them unless the city councils supported us. It makes no financial sense”.