Coe foresees athletics 'bonanza' as World Championships moved to 2022
The 2021 World Athletics Championships have, as expected, been rescheduled to 2022 when they will form a triumvirate with two other prominent events for the sport.
The next edition of the biennial championships was due to take place in Eugene, Oregon in USA in August of next year, but, to avoid a clash with the rescheduled Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and other competitions, will now be held on 15 to 24 July, 2022.
The new dates were approved by the World Athletics Council this week following discussions with the sport’s stakeholders and the organisers of two other major events due to take place in the northern hemisphere summer in 2022, namely the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham in England, and the multisport European Championships in Munich in Germany.
With track and field arguably the most popular sport at those two events, World Athletics president Sebastian Coe claimed today there “will be a bonanza for athletics fans around the world,” and the scheduling has also been welcomed by the various organising bodies.
The World Athletics Championships are being postponed following the decision to delay the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics until next year as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, but Coe believes there could be benefits for the sport from the delay.
The Commonwealth Games are scheduled for 27 July to 7 August, 2022, with the European Championships to follow from 11 to 21 August, and athletes will be able to compete in two or three of the competitions as appropriate.
In a statement, Coe said: "[Fans] will be treated to six weeks of absolutely first-class athletics. More than 70 of our member federations are part of the Commonwealth and more than 50 of our member federations are European so our guiding principle in rescheduling the World Championships was to ensure enough space was created around the centrepiece World Athletics Championship for athletes to choose other major events to compete in. We were also very mindful that we did not want to damage the other major championships in 2022, because they are also very important to our sport.
"We believe we have found a solution that will allow athletes who are eligible for the other two events to compete in them with the Commonwealth Games Federation planning to stage the athletics programme towards the end of their event. This will showcase our sport to its best advantage in the circumstances and we will continue collaborating with all competitions on the detailed programming.
"We would not have chosen to have three major championships back-to-back but it will give us a unique opportunity to promote our sport and its stars around the globe over a six-week period. I want to particularly thank Oregon 21 LLC and all its stakeholders for their collaboration and flexibility as well as all World Athletics’ partners and broadcasters who are so critical to delivering the Games and taking it into the homes of millions of fans."
The pandemic has already forced this year’s World Athletics Indoor Championships in Nanjing, China to be postponed to 2021.
The Hungarian capital Budapest is the host for the outdoor edition in 2023.
The upcoming World Athletics Championships are regarded as particularly important given that they follow the Olympics, and will be the first to be held in the major market of USA.
Niels de Vos, the executive director of the now World Athletics Championships Oregon 22, is among those to have given his support to the new dates.
De Vos, the former chief executive of UK Athletics, said: “I should like to thank Oregon’s stakeholders for committing so early to the postponement, allowing maximum flexibility on dates for our friends at World Athletics, just as they have been flexible with us in ensuring our plans can remain on track despite the 12 month postponement.
“Oregon 22, as we must now get used to calling it, will be kickstarting a global festival of international track and field championships in the summer of 2022 that will be a fantastic experience for athletes and fans alike."
There was also backing from Louise Martin, the president of the Commonwealth Games Federation, who said: “I would like to thank the leadership of World Athletics for a hugely constructive approach to working with the CGF. Our collective objective has been to ensure that, in this unprecedented time of global upheaval in all our lives, as well as its impact on the international sports calendar, the interests of athletes are at the centre of all decision-making.
“We will continue to work together to create space within our schedules to provide athletes with the opportunity to safely compete to the best of their abilities at multiple world class events."
Libor Varhanik, the interim chair of the board of the 2022 European Championships, added: “On behalf of all the stakeholders of the multi-sport European Championships Munich 2022, I would like to thank World Athletics for working constructively and collaboratively with us in finding a new event date that respects the major events already scheduled in 2022.
“The international sports calendar has been hugely impacted as we battle this terrible global health crisis, and in discussions with World Athletics and the Commonwealth Games Federation our mutual goal has been to put the interest of our athletes at the forefront of our thoughts.
"The European Championships will continue to work closely with World Athletics and the Commonwealth Games Federation to ensure that athletes, media and sports fans are able to enjoy an amazing summer of sport across three world-class events in 2022, from Oregon to Birmingham and culminating in Munich in August on the 50th anniversary of its hosting of the Olympic Games.’’
These will be the second multisport European Championships after the inaugural edition was held in Glasgow (six sports) and Berlin (athletics only) in 2018.
This year's standalone European Athletics Championships are due to take place in Paris from 25 to 30 August, but are under review in light of the pandemic, with the local organising committee having been requested to carry out a feasibility study with input from the French authorities.
Meanwhile, World Athletics has announced that bidding processes for two World Athletics Series events in 2023 have been postponed until later in the year.
As a result of the ongoing pandemic, applications for the 2023 World Athletics Cross Country Championships and the 2023 World Athletics Relays will be invited from November 2020. Both championships are held every other year.
World Athletics has said that bidding processes for World Athletics Series events beyond 2023 remain unchanged.