After rigorous evaluation to ensure its organisation, facilities and services are of high international standard, the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) Diamond League General Assembly meeting in Zurich has confirmed Rabat city of Morocco among the 14 locations for the 2016 event.
This development the withdrawal of New York City from the event and accords Rabat the prestige of the first African city to host the Diamond League following its earlier application in 2014 host an IAAF meet.
The Complexe Prince Moulay Abdellah which stages the annual international Mohammed VI event has been chosen as the venue and will be the third stop of the 2016 Diamond League. The Rabat leg will be held on May 22 after the opening in Doha on May 6 and a second stop in Shanghai on May 14. The competition will move from Rabat to Eugene on May 28.
Other host cities for the 32 individual track and field discipline competition include Rome, Birmingham, Oslo, Stockholm, Monaco and London just before the Olympics. After the Olympics the athletes will return to the series on August 25 in Lausanne and two days later in Paris, before competition draws to a close with meetings in Zurich and Brussels on September 1 and 9 respectively.
The inclusion of Rabat has been greeted with excitement by Moroccan athletics family.
“This is a proud moment for our country’s athletics community and for the international reputation of Moroccan sport in general,” said Abdeslam Ahizoune, President of the Royal Moroccan Athletics Federation and the meeting director.
“The inclusion of our meeting in the IAAF Diamond League is a clear affirmation of the ability of our country to deliver the highest international standard sports product.”
With the series having already had events held in North America, Europe and Asia since its launch in 2009, IAAF President Sebastian Coe believes bringing the Diamond League to Africa is an important step.
“We are pleased to be able to take our premier athletics series into a new continental area,” said the Diamond League chairman, who also declared last year that bringing the IAAF World Championships to Africa in the next decade was a priority.
“The IAAF Diamond League offers the best athletics entertainment to the world outside of the IAAF World Championships and the Olympic Games. Broadcast annually in more than 120 countries, the series provides athletics with its next most prominent global shop window. We proudly welcome the inclusion of Rabat.”
New York City organisers withdrew with claims that they want to focus on a “street” athletics meeting in order to attract a younger generation of fans.
“It’s been a great run on Randall’s Island, New York, and now we’re looking ahead to producing a new event. As we look forward, we believe that changing our focus to a street meet is one way to make the event attractive to a younger audience,” said Mark Wetmore, Meeting Director of New York.