With athletics adding another Diamond League event in China, World Athletics President Sebastian Coe addressed human rights issues in the country during his State of Sport Zoom meeting.
The Diamond League, an annual series of track and field competitions, confirmed earlier today that it will host an event in the Chinese city of Shenzhen on August 6, in addition to an event a week earlier in Shanghai.
The announcement comes following the suspension of Women’s Tennis Association tournaments in the country over concerns over Peng Shuai, the Chinese tennis star who, in a social media post in November, was attributed to her. , accusing a former senior Communist Party official of forcing her to have sex.
In a video posted by Lianhe Zaobao, a Singaporean Chinese-language newspaper, Shuai recently denied claiming to have been sexually assaulted.
“We are, of course, concerned about the well-being of all athletes,” Coe said.
“I believe that all athletes should be free to voice their concerns and that sports should never hesitate to make these points known.
“But it’s always better to have an open dialogue and sporting relations than to raise the drawbridge.
“Very few other sectors choose to do this.
“Sport has always played a very important role in skillful diplomacy which has historically proven to be very effective at times.”
He added that he was “philosophically opposed” to boycotts in sport.
As a middle distance runner for Great Britain, Coe won the 1,500 meters at the 1980 Moscow Summer Games after the Americans led a boycott.
He won the 1500m again at the 1984 Games in Los Angeles when the Soviet Union boycotted it.
“They tend not to achieve what they set out for,” Coe said.
“Diplomatic boycotts, while they don’t really have an impact on the athlete, are not really particularly strong gestures.
“It’s really important that the Diamond League has a foothold in all of our great athletic nations.
“You make all kinds of balances and judgments when you look at your competition schedule and your lineup.
“We consider it an important part of our sport.”