Sport Athletics Creepy starting-block cameras censored after female athletes protest

Creepy starting-block cameras censored after female athletes protest

creepy cameras athletics
Tatjana Pinto (centre) competes in Doha on Monday. Photo: AAP
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Close-up images from cameras built into the starting blocks at the World Athletics Championships in Doha have sparked objections from female athletes.

The International Association of Athletics Federations has since agreed to censor the images.

Following complaints from German sprinters Tatjana Pinto and Gina Luckenkemper, it will show only close-ups of athletes crouched, awaiting the starting pistol.

The “Block Cam” system – introduced for the Qatar event – promised to “provide innovative angles on the competition”, according to the IAAF. It also showed images of athletes’ intimate areas, according to Pinto and Luckenkemper, who said they hadn’t been consulted about the cameras.

Luckenkemper and Pinto – who were both knocked out in the 100-metre semi-finals – called the intimate cameras “very questionable”.

Luckenkemper said standing on top of the cameras wearing short running shorts was “really not comfortable”.

“I, as a woman, find that quite stupid,” she said in a statement released by her spokesman.

“I would doubt that a woman was part of the development of that (the cameras).”

The German athletics association took the sprinters’ complaints to the IAAF, which had announced the introduction of “trailblazing technology” for the meet at Doha. That included “Block Cam”, which would “provide innovative angles on the competition”, to make it more exciting for viewers.

IAAF director of broadcast James Lord said traditional camera shots “only showed the top or side of their heads as they took their marks”, and “the new cameras within the blocks will capture that intense moment just before a race”.

Two miniature cameras were installed in each starting block for the 100-metre and sprint hurdles races.

Under the compromise reached late on Sunday, the big-screen close-ups will show only the athletes crouching in their blocks, moments before they start.

Video data from the cameras will also be erased daily.

The women’s 100-metre final was won by Jamaican Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce.

-with agencies