Not since demonstrators invaded the track and interrupted a race during these biennial Track & Field Championships that attract an average 7,000 competitors from 167 Member countries, back in 1981 in New Zealand, has the ugly face of politics raised its head. As over 8,000 men and women aged 35 years and over arrive in Malaga for the 12-day Championships, Masters athletics has been known to operate true to one of its remit to encourage lifelong participation in a cradle-to-grave sport with the emphasise on participation.
5 athletes from Gibraltar had entered in the true spirit of Masters athletics as they have done at previous Championships only to find they would have to do so as Spanish athletes. They protested. The Gibraltar Amateur Athletics Association that is affiliated to both WMA and IAAF supported and defended their Masters athletes.
IAAF President, Lord Coe, writing on social media, supported Gibraltar’s athletes and their right to compete in their Member’s colours.
World Masters Athletics said the athletes could run as “Neutrals” that it (WMA) had no choice but to enforce the ban or risk having the Spanish Authorities stop the entire competition. Masters athletes have to pay all their own entry fees, travel and hotel expenses.
According to the Gibraltar Press their athletes have withdrawn from the Championships despite having trained and booked in advance.