If my sources are right, there already have been some thoughts about a 'sit-down strike' similar to the one in Hengelo (I was there and I must say, the message came across very clearly. Also, once the spectators got what it was about, they were 100% supportive).
Concerning the question how this all came about: I believe the rule was proposed somewhere in 2001 and voted on in the Edmonton IAAF congress. I guess a lot of people did not really know what they were voting about.
Also, I have heard similar criticism from a number of different events
- throws: changing the sector without a very apparent reason
- hammer: changing the specification of the handle, that became to smalle for large men (and a lot of hammer throwers are - of course - big men). I believe the introduction of the latter rule has been postponed?