The international federation for track and field sent out a first-of-its-kind global survey Monday that it will use to help chart the course for the sport over the rest of the decade.
World Athletics posted the 12-question survey and said it plans to use the results to develop a “World Plan” that will lay out the path for developing track and field through 2030.
Athletes, national federations, media and governments, which support the majority of the world’s Olympic track teams, are among those being asked to take the survey.
The initiative is “the most far-reaching and most advanced thing we’ve done so far,” said Willie Banks, the former U.S. triple jumper who now sits on the World Athletics council.
The survey asks questions about how popular track is in any given participant’s part of the world, whether the sport is diverse and inclusive, how to attract more fans and what innovations are needed to keep the sport relevant.
“We want to hear what their love is, what their concerns are, what their beliefs are and how they perceive our sport,” Banks said.
Track and field has a long past struggling with doping issues, and has also had a record of producing some of the world’s most outspoken voices for change.
But at the core, the sport has struggled to remain relevant across the globe as the sports media landscape has changed over the decades. Usain Bolt brought more eyeballs to track during his three-Olympic run from 2008 to 2016, though his retirement has left a void that even World Athletics president Sebastian Coe has acknowledged will be hard to fill.
The sport is also trying to incorporate more athletes’ opinions in its decision-making process — part of what’s being recognized by sending out this survey, which marks the first of its kind by an international federation.
Rob Koehler, the head of the advocacy group Global Athlete, said “if World Athletics is going to have a global conversation about the future of the sport their best assets are their athletes.”
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