A message to Officials from England Athletics CEO, Chris Jones

Chris Jones would like to take this opportunity to thank all officials, at all levels, as we prepare for the spring and summer outdoor season. To those officials who have continued to work hard to organise online virtual forums or coordinate support and online training opportunities for their fellow volunteers in roles such as County Officials Secretaries, to those supporting their peers socially during these difficult and fallow times, and to those involved in organising and selecting officials for competitions, often needing to adjust and amend plans due to reasons beyond their control, thank you.

Below is an open letter to all our officials:


Dear officials,

I believe that as a country we have the best athletics officials in the world.

At all levels of the sport, our athletes and runners of all abilities can rely on the hard work and expertise of licensed officials both on and off the track to ensure that their competitive experience is a positive one.

These efforts and talents will be once again fundamentally important as we look to April and a period when our sport resumes. It seems surreal to think that it is a year ago since I wrote an open letter to all officials, one month into the first national lockdown, with the cancellation of early season competitions, including county championships, being relayed around this time.

Much has happened since, with several periods of lockdown following in November and most recently this current one. I know from speaking with a number of officials that the last year has been extremely testing on various levels, but I am extremely hopeful that the future looks brighter as our sport takes its first steps back to normality from 29 March 2021.

The determination, enthusiasm, and tenacity displayed by officials in abundance during summer 2020 as, together, we worked to bring back our sport resulting in 300 track and field competitions being delivered, realising 40,000 performances and the same number of road race events being provided for 60,000 people. This stands us in good stead for the period ahead.

We will need to call on that same spirit and collective will as we look to the Spring and the lighter mornings, lighter nights, warmer weather, and a positive bounce back from the adverse impacts of the pandemic. I firmly believe that athletics and running can be at the heart of the country’s re-emergence from the effects of COVID-19 and, whilst we will need to apply diligence, I do believe that the future holds much promise. The efforts of volunteers across the land have been fundamental in preparing our clubs, groups and competition plans to ensure that our sport is in a position where we will be able to enjoy each other’s company again soon, reflect together on a year like no other and harness the experience that we have all shared to make us even more resilient as a sport and to be the sport of choice for so many people whatever their involvement, background, age or aspiration.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all officials, at all levels, as we prepare for the spring and summer outdoor season. To those officials who have continued to work hard to organise online virtual forums or coordinate support and online training opportunities for their fellow volunteers in roles such as County Officials Secretaries, to those supporting their peers socially during these difficult and fallow times, and to those involved in organising and selecting officials for competitions, often needing to adjust and amend plans due to reasons beyond their control, thank you.

Your skills and commitment are an inspiration for so many others as we work together to inspire a new generation of officials coming into our sport. I suspect that interest in competition will be high during 2021 so we will need to build our depth and breadth of volunteers to be able to meet demand. This is exciting but also comes with challenge. Time will tell how confident people will be as we emerge and I have no doubt that as a sporting family, the ability to pull together, to support one another and to offer assurance, will be required as we take our first steps.

2021 is an Olympic and Paralympic year and with a home Commonwealth Games around the corner in 2022, the opportunity to ignite the interest of the nation is before us. Our licensed officials will be at the heart of ensuring that we do just that.

I hope that you enjoy the coming season and once again thank you for everything that you do for our great sport. It is invaluable and it is very much appreciated by all.

Chris Jones,
CEO England Athletics