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European Athletic Association

European Athletic Association
Membership51 national associations
AbbreviationEuropean Athletics
AffiliationWorld Athletics
HeadquartersLausanne, Switzerland
PresidentDobromir Karamarinov
Official website

The European Athletic Association (more commonly known as European Athletics) is the governing body for athletics in Europe. It is one of the six Area Associations of the world's athletics governing body World Athletics. European Athletics has 51 members and is headquartered in Lausanne.

Originally created in 1932 as a European Committee, it was made into an independent body during the Bucharest conference of 1969. The first European Athletics congress took place in Paris on 6–8 October 1970, with Dutchman Adriaan Paulen elected as its first president. From a volunteer-led organization based in the acting Secretary's home country, European Athletics has developed into a professional organization with a permanent base in Switzerland.

European Athletics runs and regulates several championships and meetings across Europe – both indoor and outdoor.


After the foundation of the International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF) in 1912, it was clear there needed to be a European committee as part of the governing board. While the idea originally met with some resistance, it was the active promotion by the Hungarian representative Szilard Stankovits that bought the initiative to life following the Los Angeles congress of the IAAF in 1932. Following this meeting, the Council officially designated a European Commission (chaired by Stankovits) with the task of reviewing the conditions for the organisation of the European Athletics Championships.[1]

The first official meeting of what was later to be known as the European Commission was held in Budapest on 7 January 1934. The organization of the first European Athletics Championships was officially awarded to Turin.[2][3] These first games were men-only and were notable by the absence of the British delegation, which opposed an event seen as competing with its own British Empire Games.[1] The next championships took place in Paris in 1938, but after Stankovits' death the same year and the cancellation of all events during WWII, the Commission lay dormant until 1945.[3]

During the post-war period, and with an increase in membership both at IAAF and European levels, the Commission quickly changed to an independent association, including the related financial and political independence from its international parent. Its budget, for example, increased from £100 in 1951 (for postal expenses)[4] to US$40,000 per year in 1970.[5] It was also during that period that the Commission started experimenting and developing a greater range of events besides the European Championships: the European Junior Championships (1964), the European Cup (1965), the Indoor championships (1966).

Adriaan Paulen, the Association's first president (1969–1976)

The Commission officially became a Committee in July 1952,[6] gradually expanding its independence. The members of the Commission were elected at regular IAAF Congresses until 1966 when, for the first time, their selection became European-only. The shift also reflects the increased income received from television rights, as earnings took off as a direct result of broadcasting arrangements.[7] The 1969 European championships secured a record US$90,000 from Eurovision for the rights to broadcast the event. It was then decided that the European Committee would directly receive these funds in order to benefit its members (rather than having it redistributed by the IAAF.)[6]

On 31 October 1969, the Association of the European Members of the IAAF was constituted at a formal meeting of the European Committee of the IAAF in Bucharest. Its Constitutional Rules were ratified at the IAAF Congress in Stockholm, August 1970, and came into force at the first European Athletics Congress in Paris on 7 November 1970.[6] Adriaan Paulen, who was president of the European Committee of the IAAF, was elected as the first President and simultaneously became (or remained) European representative on the IAAF Council. He held this position until his election as President of the IAAF in 1976.[5]

European Athletics' current headquarters in Lausanne.

The 1970s were also the time for European Athletics to raise the issue of doping. They started establishing more systematic controls, pushing for tests to be extended to non-European athletes as well.[8] The European Championships of 1974 included a wider range of banned products than previously, with anabolic steroids being checked at all other subsequent events.[8] As a continent, Europe clearly was "the nucleus of the IAAF" and an example to be followed for other IAAF members.[9] As such, the European Association became an experimental platform for international athletics, organising events before they were recognized by the International Olympic Committee. For example, the women's marathon was included in the 1982 championships and became an Olympic distance for female athletes at the 1984 Summer Olympics.

The late 1980s saw major new challenges for sports in general, and European athletics in particular, with the increased professionalization of athletes and the breakdown of the Eastern Bloc. There was a huge increase in member federations (34 to 49 between 1987 and 1991) and the growing complexity of financial and commercial negotiations as well as an ever-expanding calendar of events meant that the organisation had to adapt. Till Luft, from Germany, became the first full-time General Secretary in 1995 and worked at the first European Athletics office in Frankfurt and, after April 1996, Darmstadt.[10][11] A second office was also opened in London, next to the IAAF. A few years later, because of the somewhat unfavourable nature of the German tax system towards non-profit organizations, the proposal was made to merge both offices and move out of Germany.[11] The move to Switzerland and necessary changes to Constitutional Rules were approved at the Athens Congress of 2003, and the new location opened in Lausanne (where several other sports organizations, including the IOC, were already located) on 1 January 2004.

Members and Governance

European Athletics' governance is split between five bodies:

  • The Congress, which is the general assembly of the Members and the supreme authority of the European Athletic Association;
  • The Council, with the Executive Board and its President;
  • The Commissions;
  • The Head Office;
  • The European Athletics Association Court.


European Athletics now has 51 members, with Kosovo having joined in 2015.[12] Each member gets one vote at the Congress.[13]

European Athletics Members

Since 2005, the European Athletic Association also has its own anthem, composed by the Armenian composer Gevorg Manasyan, which is used at the opening and closing of official events.[15]

European Athletics Council

EAA Presidents (1969 – today)

The last president Svein Arne Hansen
Name Country Tenure
Adriaan Paulen  Netherlands 1969–1976
Arthur Gold  United Kingdom 1976–1987
Carl-Olaf Homén  Finland 1987–1999
Hansjörg Wirz  Switzerland 1999–2015
Svein Arne Hansen  Norway 2015–2020
Dobromir Karamarinov  Bulgaria 2020–

The European Athletics Council consists of:

  • Members of the European Athletics Executive Board
Executive Board members
  • Dobromir Karamarinov, President
  • Cherry Alexander, Vice-President (GBR)
  • Libor Varhaník, Vice-President (CZE)
  • Karin Grute Movin (SWE)
  • Christian Milz, CEO Director General (ex officio).[16]
Council members
  • Sebastian Coe, President of World Athletics (ex officio)
  • Slobodan Branković (SRB)
  • Nadya But-Husaim (BLR)
  • Raúl Chapado (ESP)
  • Fatih Çintimar (TUR)
  • Panagiotis Dimakos (GRE)
  • Jean Gracia (FRA)
  • Márton István Gyulai (HUN)
  • Periklis Iakovakis (GRE) (Chair of the European Athletics Athletes Committee)
  • Anna Kirnova (SVK)
  • Antti Pihlakoski (FIN)
  • Sonja Spendelhofer (AUT)
  • Erich Teigamägi (EST)

The term of office for the Council is for the period from the effective date of its election to the conclusion of the next Ordinary Congress held in the year immediately preceding each Olympic Summer Games.[17]


There are four broad categories under which competitions are held:

  • Senior : all athletes over 23 years old ;
  • U23 : athletes aged from 20 to 22 years on 31 December of the year of the competition;
  • U20 : athletes aged 16 to 19 years on 31 December of the year of the competition;
  • U18 : athletes aged 16 to 17 years on 31 December of the year of the competition.

European Athletics organizes several official competitions at the European level,[18]

European Athletics Championships A biennial event where, when it coincides with the Summer Olympic Games, the marathon and racewalking events are not contested.
European Athletics Indoor Championships A biennial event created in 1970, when it replaced the European Indoor Games.
European Cross Country Championships An annual event inaugurated in 1994. Individual and national team medals awarded in each race.
European Athletics U23 Championships A biennial event first held in 1997 and dedicated to athletes from 20 to 22 years of age.
European Athletics U20 Championships A biennial event first held in 1964 for athletes from 16 and 19 years of age.
European Athletics U18 Championships A biennial event first held in 2016 for athletes from 16 to 17 years of age. The event takes place in even numbered years, and alternates with the EOC's European Youth Olympic Festival which is held for the same age category in odd numbered years.
European Team Championships The former European Cup is held annually (except during Olympic years) since 2009 and is the premier national team event for European athletics. Points are calculated by position in each event, total points are calculated by the combination of all women's and men's points, and there is promotion and relegation between the leagues based on the final results. Until 2023, the event consisted of four leagues (Super league, First, Second and Third leagues) with 20 events for men and women, held across four venues. From 2023 onwards, in co-operation with the European Games, the event consists of three divisions held in one venue.
European Combined Events Team Championships First held in 1973, this annual competition (except in Olympic years) is dedicated to heptathlon and decathlon events in a national team setting. The championship takes place in three separate divisions – Super, First, and Second Leagues – and nations gain promotion and relegation between the leagues depending upon their performance.
European Race Walking Cup A biennial racewalking event established in 1996, with both team and individual competitions.
European 10,000m Cup A stand-alone 10,000 metres championship first held in 1997.
European Throwing Cup An annual competition for athletes specialising in the events of shot put, discus, javelin and hammer throw. Usually held in March, it was inaugurated in 2001.
European Mountain Running Championships A fell running race organized each year in July since 1995.
European Running Championships A mass participation event in the style of Gran Fondo, set to first be held in Leuven and Brusselsin April 2025, and each second year thereafter, over 10 kilometeres, half marathon and marathon.[19]

Club competitions

European Athletics also organises various club competitions, two track and field and one cross country.


Any indoor or outdoor meeting within Europe, which invites international athletes and offers a prize money, appearance fee, and/or the value of non-cash prizes in excess of a certain amount is required to have a permit from European Athletic. The distinction between Premium, Classic and Special Premium meetings lies essentially in the number of mandatory events, level of attendance, stadium capacity, as well as commercial conditions and the number of doping controls. Classic Meeting requirements are less stringent than Premium, whereas Special Premium Meetings have a restricted programme of events (and therefore a reduced number of participating athletes).[23]

Outdoor Permit Meetings

During the European Athletics Outdoor Season 2018 a total of 21 meetings — including Premium, Special Premium and Classic – are scheduled to be held:[24]

Outdoor Premium Meetings
Outdoor Special Premium Meetings
Outdoor Classic Meetings

Outdoor Area Permit Meetings

Current or previous Outdoor Area Permit Meetings[citation needed]

Indoor Meetings

Current or previous Indoor Classic Permit Meetings:[citation needed]

Cross Country Permit Meetings

During the European Athletics Cross Country season 2017–18 a total of 13 meetings are scheduled to be held:[26]

Race Walking Permit Meetings



The European Athletic Association is the owner of all rights emanating from European athletics competitions and activities.[28] Its current official sponsors are:

See also


  1. ^ a b Roger, Anne; Tetret, Thierry. European Athletics. A Continental History of Track and Field. European Athletic Association. pp. 17–18. ISBN 9783938023600.
  2. ^ Minutes of the IAAF Council, Berlin, 23 and 24 September 1933
  3. ^ a b Roger, Anne; Tetret, Thierry. European Athletics. A Continental History of Track and Field. European Athletic Association. pp. 19–26. ISBN 9783938023600.
  4. ^ Roger, Anne; Tetret, Thierry. European Athletics. A Continental History of Track and Field. European Athletic Association. pp. 30–31. ISBN 9783938023600.
  5. ^ a b Roger, Anne; Tetret, Thierry. European Athletics. A Continental History of Track and Field. European Athletic Association. pp. 55–59. ISBN 9783938023600.
  6. ^ a b c Roger, Anne; Tetret, Thierry. European Athletics. A Continental History of Track and Field. European Athletic Association. pp. 32–38. ISBN 9783938023600.
  7. ^ "It is imperative in the future that positive arrangements be concluded with television and that the gross receipts from television revenues be included in the percentage allocated to the IAAF." Minutes of the 24th meeting of the European Committee, Prague, 10 November 1962.
  8. ^ a b Minutes of the Council, Zagreb, 1–2 November 1974
  9. ^ Adriaan Paulen, minutes of the IAAF Council, Turin, 5 August 1979, as cited by Roger and Tetret (2010).
  10. ^ The office was traditionally located in the Honorary Secretary, and then General Secretary's home country.
  11. ^ a b Roger, Anne; Tetret, Thierry. European Athletics. A Continental History of Track and Field. European Athletic Association. pp. 90–103. ISBN 9783938023600.
  12. ^ "IAAF Council Meeting, Beijing, 15 April – Notes". 15 April 2015. Retrieved 8 January 2016.
  13. ^ "European Athletics Constitution. Article 19 – Voting at the Congress" (PDF). Retrieved 3 February 2016.
  14. ^ Provisionnally suspended. "Statement from European Athletics". European Athletics Association. 14 November 2015. Retrieved 16 November 2015.
  15. ^ "Update – Newsletter of the European Athletic Association" (PDF). September 2005. Retrieved 8 January 2016.
  16. ^ "Milz, le Romand qui dirige l'athlétisme européen". 20 minutes (in French). 15 August 2014. Retrieved 19 January 2016.
  17. ^ "European Athletics Council". Retrieved 19 January 2016.
  18. ^ "European Athletics Constitution. Article 38 – EAA Competitions and Activities" (PDF). Retrieved 3 February 2016.
  19. ^ "European Running Championships | Overview | European Athletics". Retrieved 2023-12-12.
  20. ^ "Competitions – European Athletics". european-athletics. Retrieved 2016-09-19.
  21. ^ "Competitions – European Athletics". european-athletics. Retrieved 2016-09-19.
  22. ^ "Competitions – European Athletics". european-athletics. Retrieved 2016-09-19.
  23. ^ "Principles for the selection and management of European Athletics meetings" (PDF). June 2015. Retrieved 2 February 2016.
  24. ^ "European Athletics Outdoor Permit Meetings 2018" (PDF). European Athletics. Retrieved 14 July 2018.
  25. ^ Three separate events in 2016
  26. ^ "Cross Country permit Meetings 2017–18" (PDF). European Athletics. Retrieved 14 July 2018.
  27. ^ "Competitions – Race Walking Permit Meetings – European Athletics". european-athletics.
  28. ^ "European Athletics Constitution. Article 39 – Event Rights" (PDF). Retrieved 2 February 2016.
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European Athletic Association
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