(25-Sep) -- In one of the most significant sponsorship moves ever in athletics, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) announced today that the Chinese sports and entertainment conglomerate Wanda Group will become the title sponsor for the Diamond League series of athletics meetings under a ten-year deal which would begin in 2020. The announcement was made at the IAAF Congress in Doha where the World Athletics Championships will commence on Friday, and the IAAF called the landmark deal "the biggest commercial partnership in the history of athletics."
IAAF president Sebastian Coe speaking at the 2019 IAAF Congress in Doha, Qatar (photo by Matthew Quine for IAAF; used with permission)
"The Diamond League has been the IAAF's shop window for a decade, thrilling fans around the world on an annual basis and we are delighted that the Wanda Diamond League will continue to showcase athletics for the next ten years," said IAAF president Sebastian Coe through a statement. He called Wanda a "perfect for athletics."
Financial terms were not disclosed, but the IAAF said the partnership included the following areas of engagement:
- The 'Wanda Diamond League' title sponsorship for ten years starting in 2020
- The future organization of an annual Diamond League meeting in China by the Wanda Sports Group
- The creation of a new annual IAAF event in China to be organised by Wanda Sports Group
- Co-operation in developing youth athletics in China
- The right for Wanda to co-host the IAAF Gala in China
- The Diamond League media rights for five years beginning in 2025
Wanda is already a significant player in triathlon and road running. The company owns World Triathlon Corporation (WTC), the founder and operator of the global Ironman series and other triathlon properties. In turn, WTC owns the global Rock 'n' Roll marathon and road racing series which has over 20 tour stops in Asia, Europe, and the Americas. The company also owns the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon and The Sun-Herald City2Surf in Australia, both massive events (the City2Surf is the world's largest fully-timed road race with 70,369 finishers in 2019).
Hengming Yang, the CEO of Wanda Sports Group, sees the new partnership as a natural extension of their present business trajectory. "Wanda is committed to working together with IAAF and the Diamond League to further grow athletics and the Wanda Diamond League series in China and all over the world," Yang said through a media release. "The objective to bring top-class sporting events to China is at the heart of the Wanda Sports Group's mission. We're looking forward to collaborating with the IAAF to excite and inspire athletics fans in China over the next 10 years."