Increased investment in competition, events and development paid dividends in 2022 while cash remained strong and like-for-like revenues increased, the World Athletics Congress was told today when the 2022 Annual Report and Accounts were presented.
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World Athletics 2022 Annual Report and Accounts

Following two years of disruption, the priority in 2022 was to get competition back at global, regional and national levels with increased investment in competition and development while maintaining levels of funding (US$8.9m) for the Athletics Integrity Unit.

Throughout 2022, almost 4000 athletes from 180 countries competed in four World Athletics Series events, reaching a global audience of more than a billion people.

There was also a full season of Diamond League events and 162 Continental Tour events around the world where more than 13,000 athletes from 159 countries competed. Across both of these one-day meeting series, nine area records and 173 national records were set. And on the road, there were 200 label races with almost 3 million people participating.

Tracking data from Nielsen at the end of 2022 gave a snapshot of how athletics is positioned around the world and how fans engage with the sport. It showed that athletics is ranked fourth in terms of sports interest globally, and it has the best reputation of all global sports.

World Athletics ranks third in terms of reputation among international sports federations with 79% believing we govern our sport well. The overall perception of World Athletics has improved to a greater extent over the past two years than any other international sports federation.

Revenue for the year ending 31 December 2022, without the Olympic dividend (which is received and accounted for exceptionally every four years), increased 26.6% to US$54.9m with cash for the year remaining strong at US$46.1m.

Expenditure increased by 36.7% to US$72m with the hosting of four World Athletics Series events with 58% of all expenditure spent on competition and events.

Reassured by a solid cash position, the decision to increase grant and development funding to area associations and member federations by 17% to US$10.6m paid dividends. This investment supported – and, in some cases, kick-started – competition and development programmes across the world with more one-day meetings being staged, more officials and coaches being trained and the launch of a comprehensive and adaptable Kids’ Athletics programme which is gaining traction in many countries across the world.

While expenditure on competition, events and development increased during the period, administration spend remained flat at US$6.9m, despite executing more activities and projects and delivering on an ambitious strategic plan which saw media coverage reach 10 billion people and our social media followers exceed 10 million.

In his opening message in the report, World Athletics President Sebastian Coe said: β€œIt’s important our sport makes decisions fast and these decisions are focused on what it is the next generation are asking of us as a sport and how we capture their imagination in a busy landscape of competing entertainment opportunities, technology trends, life skills and activities. We need to understand the risks and the trends as both have the potential to pose serious challenges and opportunities to our sport.

β€œ2022 was an extraordinary year for athletics, made more incredible coming off the back of the two years of disruption brought about by the Covid-19.Β  We need to keep funding and investing in events, disciplines and activities that deliver tangible growth, that engage our fans and help us recruit new people into athletics. We must innovate, and to do that we need to be more agile and more confident in making decisions, hosting events and proactively attracting and retaining more people into athletics at every level.

β€œWe have spent the past three years building our resources, courses, online tools and platforms to help all federations recruit more coaches and technical officials and develop and deliver more events and creative programmes that are attractive to young people, governments, clubs and schools. A significant amount of our financial and human resources have been invested in these programmes and we saw a 153% growth in the number of users on our eLearning platform.

β€œWe have great foundations in place. We are seeing more stars grow in our sport through the athlete stories we and the media are telling. And we are actively looking at ways to raise them even higher, helping our athletes become more famous through special features, documentaries and making them more available to fans and media. Performance is key but personalities and passions are also important connectors.

β€œWe have never had such a good opportunity to grow athletics as we have over the next few years. Following visits to all the 2023 Area Congresses I can confirm there is no shortage of passion, talent and energy to drive athletics at all levels.”

World Athletics

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