DAILY NATION 29 MAR 2020
As the leader of an international federation with a membership of 214 nations, World Athletics President Sebastian Newbold Coe is an extremely busy man.
Popularly known in sporting circles simply as Seb Coe, the former Conservative Party Member for Falmouth and Camborne in the UK Parliament has clocked in numerous frequent flier miles, but his business travels have now been brutally curtailed by the coronavirus lockdown.
The 63-year-old father of four – who boasts 1,500 metres gold medals from the 1980 (Moscow) and 1984 (Los Angeles) Olympic Games – now has to run the show from his home in England with the entire staff at World Athletics’ Monaco headquarters working from home.
His family act as personal assistants and diary-keepers.
The lockdown has seen the federation’s director of communications, Jackie Brock-Doyle, make a three-times-a-week dash to World Athletics’ head office on Quai Antoine in the affluent Principality to check on the mailman’s dispatches and sign off urgent, pending issues.
“In order to support the worldwide efforts to reduce the risk of spreading the Covid-19 virus and protect our workforce and their families, all World Athletics staff are currently working from home,” a statement from the world athletics governing body earlier this month said.
Coe, on the other hand, basically spends entire days on conference call from the confines of his home.
“We’ve been on five conference calls together today!,” Nicole Jeffery, World Athletics’ head of communications chips in as we set up the sixth teleconference in which Coe would field questions from five global journalists on Friday evening.
“I didn’t think this time two weeks ago I will have to master technology, given that I managed to get away with a fountain pen and paper all these years, with no computer… it’s a steep learning curve,” Coe jokes as we ease into the business end of the teleconference powered by the ‘Microsoft Teams’ software.
Besides Nation Sport, the teleconference, moderated by World Athletics’ senior communications manager Yannis Nikolaou, features journalists Robin Gremmel (Agence France Presse), Gerardo Riquelme (Marca), Jamie Gardner (Press Association) and Mike Rowbottom (Inside The Games)
“I’ve been very comforted and excited by the resilience that our sport has shown,” Coe says in his scene-setter.
“This is the second week that our team in Monaco has been working remotely to keep the show on the road and for that I’m incredibly grateful.
“I’d like to also thank the 240 federations and others that form the ecosystem of my sport – they are resilient, they are creative, they are innovative.
“We’ve been witnessing videos and content created by them and their athletes, training, working out in bedrooms and backyards and they have all been inspirational and have been a metaphor for life,” the articulate Coe, whose running career boasts four Olympic medals, adds.
“The spirit of human optimism and endeavour stands the test of time.
“When we get through this, and we will, we will be braver and more innovative. We will be more collaborative and resilient. We will be stronger and more tolerant. We will be more global, not less.”
Indeed, innovation and technology will remain key to World Athletics’ operations in this difficult period, and Seb Coe will remain the central figure on this journey.