Athletics News

Unlocking Athletics: The Potential Impact of Saudi Arabia’s Investment in Track and Field

Unlocking Athletics: The Potential Impact of Saudi Arabia's Investment in Track and Field

As a long-time observer of the sport. I see that much has changed little since I became involved in the sport some 50 years ago. As an athlete, I was fortunate to have fine coaches, as a coach, I dealt with some of the byzantine rules of the NCAA, and as a journalist, I have seen federation presidents come and go, bring money into the sport, but without change and innovation, the sport still has way too many fingers stuck in the 19th century. Other sports have changed and evolved. Our sport fights change kicking and screaming, in many cases.

Deji Ogeyingo wrote this piece last week on the possibility of Saudi Arabia investing in our sport. We need money to bring true innovation, but we need to be open to change. Are we ready? 


Unlocking Athletics: The Potential Impact of Saudi Arabia’s Investment in Track and Field

Saudi Arabia has strategically positioned itself as a powerhouse, channeling significant funds into sports such as golf, football, and boxing. As the nation eyes the prospect of hosting the FIFA World Cup, there is growing speculation about the potential benefits of Saudi Arabia’s foray into athletics. Could athletics, often overshadowed by other sports outside the Olympics experience a transformative boost if Saudi Arabia directs its financial prowess toward the track and field arena?

If you have been living under a rock, you will know that the Saudis have a long-term ambition to penetrate sports in various ways. Primarily, it is through money, and however you want to spin it, the concept of what sport does to society has seen a big push towards athletes and sports organizations making more money, thereby increasing its popularity.

The trajectory of Saudi investments in golf and football provides a valuable lens through which to anticipate the impact on athletics. The controversial nature of these investments, particularly the acquisition of Newcastle United and the establishment of the LIV Golf tour, has sparked debates on morality, human rights, and the intertwining of sports and politics. Yet, as the narrative shifts, the questions naturally turn to athletics—could Saudi Arabia reshape the landscape of track and field?

Noah Lyles, photo by Brian Eder for RunBlogRun

At the heart of this discussion is the recognition that financial injections can catalyze substantial changes. In the golfing world, Saudi investments led to the creation of the LIV Golf tour, attracting top players despite initial reservations. The lure of substantial…

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