New series has been a welcome addition to the calendar and after 29 meetings in 2020 it will expand to 85 this year
The World Athletics Council has approved a much bigger series of Continental Tour events for this year, which will see the number of events more than double from last year to 85 Gold, Silver and Bronze meetings in 2021.
Some of the planned events last year, of course, did not take place due to the pandemic. But despite ongoing coronavirus restrictions there are ambitious plans to stage 85 meets across all six continental areas this year, with some of the meetings having already taken place in places like Sydney and Canberra in recent days.
The Continental Tour events complement World Athletics’ flagship Diamond League meetings and the World Athletics president Sebastian Coe said: “We wouldn’t have chosen to launch a new global athletics tour on the eve of a pandemic, but the Continental Tour proved to be such a strong concept that it thrived even in these adverse.
“The tour has expanded substantially in 2021, and we’re delighted that it has been embraced so enthusiastically across the world. I’m particularly pleased to see that the US has stepped up to stage three Gold meetings as well as at least nine other Silver and Bronze meetings.
“These will provide new and vital competition opportunities and prize money for athletes and strengthen our sport both in the USA and internationally. We see the expanded US calendar as an early legacy of the decision to take our flagship event, the World Athletics Championships, to Oregon in 2022.
“We will continue to drive innovation and boost the competition opportunities available to our athletes around the world, with our immediate focus on the World Athletics Relays Silesia 2021, to be held in Poland in just six weeks’ time.”
Dates have also been confirmed for the following events: World Athletics Under-20 Championships in Cali, Colombia, from August 2-7, 2022, and the World Athletics Indoor Championships in Nanjing, China from March 17-19, 2023.
As World Athletics continues in its quest to create a more athlete and fan-friendly calendar, protected national championships windows for both indoor and outdoor seasons were also approved for the period 2021-2024.
As World Athletics officials met virtually to hold their latest Council meeting, it was also announced that 12 cities have shown interest in hosting the inaugural World Athletics Road Running Championships in 2023.
World Athletics said: “The strong international interest in hosting this new event, which will combine elite and mass races in a unique format, is a ringing endorsement of a festival concept designed to unite the international road running community.”
The new event will include elite races over 5km and half-marathon, plus mass races, parkrun events and a global running conference, with the host being named in July.