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Athletics International Sports

World Athletics Makes a Flurry of Changes and Key Decisions for Tokyo Olympics

The World Athletics Council announced a series of implementations to be cemented for future competitions, as well as for the postponed Tokyo Olympics that has been tabled for 2021.

Return of cross country event since 1924 Paris Olympics

Amongst the information announced is the competition format for a cross country event that is to be included in the upcoming Games.

Equally touted for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, the event is said to be a mixed team relay for 15 countries, with each team comprising of two men and two women each.

The race will see each member run two legs of the 2.5km course, alternating between male and female athletes; each athlete will endeavour to complete the 2.5km before handing it over to a teammate of a different gender in their teams.

The World Athletics Committee has yet to meet with the organising committee of the 2024 Olympic Games to solidify the details for their proposal, with the meeting being planned for the near future.

Sebastian Coe, president of the World Athletics, has expressed his elation at the prospect of the cross country event marking its return 100 years. The event was last competed in the 1924 Paris Olympic Games.

“My love for athletics began with cross country,’’ he said.

“When I joined my first athletics club, Hallamshire Harriers, the club president was Joe Williams, who ran in the last Olympic cross country race in Paris in 1924.

“It would be hugely symbolic for this wonderful athletic discipline to return to the fold after a century, and for a new generation of runners to fall in love with the glorious challenge of running off-piste.”

World Athletics Series postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with new dates set for all events

Amongst discussions and deliberations of Russia’s doping scandal, the World Athletics Council has also confirmed new dates for the World U20 Championships Nairobi 2020, and the World Athletics Race Walking Team Championships Minsk 2020.

The new dates and locations for the World U20 Championships are Nairobi, Kenya from 17-22 August, 2021, a week after the tabled Tokyo Olympic Games 2021.

As per the competition’s rules, specific athletes who are 16-19 years of age on 31 December 2021 will be eligible to compete; the World Athletics Race Walking Team Championships are announced to be rescheduled for 23-24 April 2022 in Minsk, Belarus.

Yangzhou’s 2022 World Atheletics Half Marathon Championships has also been pushed back a week, from 20 March 2022 to the new date of 27 March 2022.

Sebastian Coe, president of the World Athletics, explains, “The disruption caused by the global pandemic has made it more difficult to schedule international events over the next two years but we want to give as much certainty as we can to our athletes, Member Federations, host cities and partners.”

“We have done our best to choose dates that we believe are achievable and offer the best chance for our athletes and event hosts to shine on the international stage.”

Australia, Bathurst proposes alternative dates

World Athletics also provided updates for the Council on their conversations with the organisers behind the World Athletics Cross Country Champions Barthust 2021, citing that alternative dates must be implemented  for the Australian competition.

Australia, whose interstate borders remain closed and have enacted harsher gathering and travel restrictions as a result of their spike in cases, also have their international borders shut since March 2020.

World Athletics is working closely with the relevant authorities in Australia in seeking the optimum solution and dates for the competition – the event is still set for 20 March 2021.

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