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July 28, 2021

World Athletics awards trio of events; Russia taskforce reports solid progress

Oman will host a World Athletics Series event for the first time in March next year, having replaced Belarus as the location of the 2022 edition of the World Athletics Race Walking Team Championships..

By Euan Cunningham

Oman will host a World Athletics Series event for the first time in March next year, having replaced Belarus as the location of the 2022 edition of the World Athletics Race Walking Team Championships.

World Athletics announced the new hosting arrangements following a meeting of its council in Tokyo, on the occasion of the Olympic Games, with the event to be held in the Oman capital Muscat.

The Belarus capital Minsk had been due to host the event, but was stripped of the rights last month, with the council citing “uncertainties around diplomatic relations and international travel restrictions” with regard to the country.

The event will be organised by a partnership of Oman Sail, the Oman Athletics Association, and the Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre. 

Mohammed Al Asmi, board member at the Oman Athletics Association, said: “We are excited to provide the stage for the world’s best race walkers to perform and anticipate an amazing debut for Oman as hosts of the event.”

Belarus has lost rights to multiple sports events in recent months, with the country in a state of turmoil following disputed elections last year, with large-scale protests being met with government crackdowns.

The Road Running Championships, which initially received hosting bids from 12 cities, will incorporate the current World Half Marathon Championships, and the new world 5k championships. 

The concept was approved by the World Athletics Council last December, with the intention of creating a biennial week-long festival of road running, and potential hosts were given until 1 June to submit their formal bids.

In its bid guide, the governing body cited economic impact of $6.1 million for the 2018 World Half Marathon Championships in Valencia, Spain, and the indicative budget for the expanded event in 2023 is $2 million to $2.5 million. 

The World Athletics council also took the opportunity to allocate two more events.

The 2023 World Athletics Road Running Championships, the inaugural edition of that event, will be held in Riga, Latvia, and in the same year China will host the World Athletics Relays for the first time, with the city of Guangzhou having been awarded hosting rights. 

The council also heard a report from its Russia taskforce during the meeting, stating that RUSAF, the Russian Athletics Federation, is “making satisfactory progress” against the milestones set out by the sport’s governing body, to pave the way for an eventual reinstatement. 

The taskforce also confirmed that RUSAF had paid its latest invoice of $431,848 in reinstatement costs, and as a result RUSAF’s membership will be put on the agenda for the 53rd World Athletics congress in November this year. 

The federation has been suspended since 2015 after allegations of state-sponsored doping emerged, and the sanction has been extended 15 times since.

The taskforce added however that if RUSAF is unable to make “satisfactory progress” towards World Athletics milestones, or if it fails to keep paying the reinstatement costs “on a timely basis”, the body will recommend that RUSAF be expelled “with immediate effect”.

Nonetheless, the taskforce has said that it “trusts [such measures] will not be necessary”, and that it hopes, under acting president Irina Privalova (who took charge in March), RUSAF will “continue to meet the remaining milestones.. set for its reinstatement”.

In August last year, RUSAF narrowly avoided complete expulsion, after it missed a deadline to pay a $6.31 million fine to World Athletics. The fine was related to the federation covering up a doping violation by former world indoor high jump champion Danil Lysenko.

However, in March, the international governing body, said that it had reviewed a final plan from RUSAF detailing a readmittance roadmap, and deemed it “fit for purpose”.

World Athletics had announced last December that the process could begin in March provided Russia stuck to its promises of serious anti-doping reform.

The World Athletics council will also consider at the November congress whether to maintain or increase the quota of 10 ‘Authorised Neutral Athletes’ at events, the scheme which allows some Russians to compete internationally as neutral athletes – not under their own country’s flag – as long as they pass vetoing of their drug-testing history.

The project was introduced earlier this year.

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