‘Born on the Wings of Commerce’: The World Championships of the International Association of Athletics Federations

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In August 1983, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) staged the first IAAF World Championships in Helsinki (Finland). The installation of the event came during a period when the world of sport became increasingly open for processes of commercialization and professionalization, extensively documented in sport history scholarship. Previous research has paid little attention to the IAAF and the establishment of its World Championships in this regard, focusing instead mainly on the role of the International Olympic Committee to stir such processes. Bearing that in mind, the IAAF Council held intensive debates on the installation of its own international athletics event from the mid-1970s onwards. The sighted archival material provides valuable insights into the decision-making processes surrounding the World Championships in general and financial considerations in particular. Following the success of the 1977 IAAF World Cup, another newly implemented international athletics event, and under the growing influence of the Italian Primo Nebiolo, elected IAAF president in 1981, the IAAF soon recognized the commercial value of its sport. Hence, the federation pressed ahead with the implementation of the IAAF World Championships that eventually led to more financial independence and evidently strengthened its position within the Olympic Movement.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of the History of Sport (online)
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)418-433
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 21.03.2016

ID: 1847579

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