A new global series of athletics meetings known as the Diamond League will be launched next year, the IAAF said yesterday.
Twelve meetings in Europe, the United States and China are under contract for the series, which will replace the six-city Europe-only Golden League and offer more head-to-head competition between rival athletes.
Three more meetings are on standby, the International Association of Athletics Federations said in a statement.
Currently many elite athletes clash only a limited number of times a year and sometimes just at world championships or Olympics.
"The chances of Usain Bolt, Asafa Powell and Tyson Gay all meeting in seven 100m races in the Diamond League are very unlikely," Mark Wetmore, organizer of the New York meeting and Gay's agent, said.
"But the series will give fans the opportunity for more competition among all lead athletes."
Confirmed for the series are London, plus one other British meeting, Lausanne, Oslo, Stockholm, Monaco, Paris, Brussels, Zurich, the American cities of New York and Eugene, Oregon, and a meeting in China, in either Beijing or Shanghai.
Meetings in Berlin, Rome and Doha could be added, the IAAF said, adding that the final composition of the league would be confirmed at the end of the 2009 season.
In each of the 32 events, athletes with the most points at the end of the series will be awarded a four-carat diamond worth approximately US$80,000, the IAAF said.
There will be at least 16 events at each meeting and they will rotate among the series cities.
"I am delighted that the IAAF, in close association with the meeting directors, has come up with a new professional circuit," IAAF president Lamine Diack said.
"We will be able to offer top class events that are based on solid financial foundations, provide the best organizational capability and serve to promote and develop the sport of athletics."
Each meeting will have US$416,000 in prize money and top athletes will be engaged with centralised contracts to ensure their participation, the IAAF said.
UK Athletics said the London meeting would be the only two-day event in the series.
(Agencies via Shanghai Daily March 3, 2009)