“My friends told me the pictures weren’t very flattering,” said Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith, who took an historic gold in the 200m on Wednesday.
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“I’m not too keen about it because it’s kind of invading my private space in a sense,” said South Africa’s Akani Simbine, fourth in the men’s 100m final.
Being in the blocks is one of the athlete’s sacred spaces and that’s the point where you just want to be alone and be free. You have a camera in your face and you don’t really want to have a camera in your face.
Justin Gatlin, who won silver in the 100m, joked: “I made sure I had my lucky underwear on.”
AP reports that a complaint from the German track and field federation has led the IAAF to roll back the use of the cameras.
“We have noted some specific feedback about the block cameras and we have confirmed we have appropriate measures in place to protect athlete privacy during the process of selecting images for broadcast,” the IAAF said in a statement.
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“We also have strict editorial guidelines for what is broadcast and these have been observed since the beginning of the championships.”
The reaction has not been wholly negative, with 100m bronze medallist Andre de Grasse calling the technology “pretty cool”, while the father and coach of sprinter Filippo Tortu noticed something he had not seen before when his son took to the blocks.
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“It’s pretty cool for the fan base they get to see us in the blocks,” said Andre de Grasse. “But you can’t get distracted by it. You’ve just got to focus on your race and not look too much toward the camera.”
Tortu added: “[My father] didn’t know that I start with closed eyes. He saw on the camera and said, ‘You are the only one in the world that does that. Why? Why? Why?’
“But I think it’s a very positive thing to do more for television. It’s important for us.”