The World Athletics governing body has launched a new biennial global championship event that will include a record $10 million prize fund for competing athletes.

The World Athletics Ultimate Championship will debut in 2026 as a climax to the track and field season.

It will pit world champions, Olympic champions, Diamond League winners, and the year’s best-performing athletes against each other, to crown an ultimate champion.

The inaugural edition will be held in Budapest, Hungary from September 11 to 13, 2026, and from then on the event will be staged every two years.

The $10 million prize money on offer is the largest ever offered in the history of track and field athletics. All athletes competing at the championship will be financially rewarded and the winners will receive $150,000 each.

World Athletics has stated that athletes will also benefit from “greater promotional rights, allowing them to commercially activate and enhance their personal profiles.”

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The three-day global championship event will feature eight to 16 of the world's top-ranked athletes per discipline competing in a new compact format for athletics, with each evening session including semi-finals and finals for track disciplines, and straight finals for field disciplines.

The Ultimate Championship will feature several track disciplines, including sprints, middle and long-distance races, relays, jumps, and throws, with athletes representing their national teams.

After hosting the World Athletics Championships last year, Budapest has been chosen as the first host city for the new event following a “competitive process” that saw interest from several major global cities.

Seb Coe, World Athletics president, has said: “The World Athletics Ultimate Championship will be high on action and excitement for fans, setting a new standard for track and field events.

“Featuring athletics’ biggest stars, it will be a must-watch global sports event which means track and field will host a major global championship in every single year, ensuring for the first time that athletics will enjoy a moment of maximum audience reach on an annual basis.”

Jon Ridgeon, World Athletics chief executive, added: “By embracing innovation and breaking away from traditional models, we are looking to reach a broader audience, particularly younger fans, and elevate the entire sport.

“There will be a strong focus on television audiences, with an aim to reach the biggest global audience possible. We also want to enhance the viewing experience, both at home and in the stadium, so we are looking at what new competition innovations can be introduced, all of which will be thoroughly tested in advance. We truly believe this will be a game changer for our entire sport.”

It was recently announced that World Athletics is set to become the first international sporting federation to award Olympic athletes with prize money at the upcoming games.

A prize fund of $2.4 million will be made available across the athletics events at the Paris 2024 Olympics, with gold medallists receiving $50,000 each. There are 48 medal events scheduled for the games.

At the Los Angeles games in 2028, prize money will also be allocated to bronze and silver medallists.