Millrose Games to make Irish TV debut as TG4 strike new broadcast deal

All seven of the World Indoor Tour Gold meetings will be broadcast live next year

Eamonn Coghlan in action during the 1981 Millrose Games at Madison Square Garden. Photograph:  Manny Millan/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images

Eamonn Coghlan in action during the 1981 Millrose Games at Madison Square Garden. Photograph: Manny Millan/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images

 

TG4 has further extended its broadcasting deal directly with World Athletics to include all seven of the World Indoor Tour Gold meetings next year. It will be the first time the top tier of international indoor meetings will be shown on Irish television, including the famed Millrose Games in New York.

Earlier this year, TG4 secured a deal to broadcast 14 of the World Athletics Continental Tour meetings over the course of the summer, with that bringing live international Grand Prix athletics on to Irish television for the first time in over 20 years.

The series of seven Indoor Gold Tour meetings begins with the Karlsruhe meeting in Germany on January 28th, and finishes with the Madrid meeting on March 2nd. In between the Millrose Games (January 29th) and the Birmingham Indoor Grand Prix (February 19th), both of which were unable to go ahead earlier this year because of Covid-19, will be also back for 2022.

In total, 31 meetings feature in the 2022 World Indoor Tour, between gold, silver and bronze label, the new development of these tours part of a concerted effort by World Athletics to create a logical long-term global calendar of international events. It will also ensure more top-level competition opportunities and exposure for athletes in all areas of the sport.

Also behind the latest TG4 deal is Pierce O’Callaghan, the former Irish international race walker who last month took up the full-time position as head of competition management at World Athletics. O’Callaghan has been overseeing the restructuring of the global athletics calendar, the World Indoor Tour Gold meetings the latest stage of that.

“Before now, the World Indoor Tour was never fully linked up,” says O’Callaghan. “World Athletics president Sebastian Coe wanted to improve the international competition structure so now it’s the full package, including the TV rights being bundled together, like what happened with the Continental Tour this summer, which we’ve combined and made available all over the world for the first time.

“There’s never been a series of indoor athletics meetings like this on Irish TV before, and because an Irish station have bought the rights, Irish athletes will get preferential treatment in terms on starting positions, lanes and all that. We saw that this summer with their coverage of 14 of Continental Tours, either live or highlights. All that helped considerably with Irish athletes get their ranking points for the Tokyo Olympics.

“So far they’ll be live in about 80 countries. It also means if these meetings are not being broadcast by that nation, they’ll be available on the World Athletics YouTube channel, which is also brilliant for anyone who follows the sport. It’s about engaging with the fans of the sport, and meetings like the Millrose Games have a huge history and connection with Irish athletes. It also all builds up nicely to the World Indoors, which take place two weeks later, in Belgrade.”

It means the Millrose Games, the longest running indoor athletics meeting in the world, will be shown for the first time in its 113-year history on Irish TV in its entirety. The meeting director is long-standing Irish mile and 1,500m record holder Ray Flynn.

O’Callaghan’s role with World Athletics also comes at a time the World Cross-Country Tour, Combined Events Tour and Race Walking Tour all replace the existing challenge and permit series with a more global spread of fixtures. That begins this Saturday with the Cardiff Cross-Challenge, the first of 14 Gold standard meetings of the new World Athletics Cross-Country Tour.

TG4, which will celebrate its 25th anniversary at the end of this month, got an additional €4.2 million to its annual budget in the budget, and will receive €44.9 million from the exchequer next year.

2022 World Indoor Tour Gold calendar (all live and exclusive on TG4)

Jan 28th: Indoor Meeting Karlsruhe, Karlsruhe

Jan 29th: Millrose Games, New York City

Feb 13th: New Balance Indoor Grand Prix, Boston

Feb 17th: Meeting Hauts-de-France Pas-de-Calais, Lievin

Feb 19th: Müller Indoor Grand Prix, Birmingham

Feb 22nd: Copernicus Cup, Torun

Mar 2nd:Villa de Madrid, Madrid

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