World Athletics president Sebastian Coe is confident of delivering three major championships in the summer of 2022, with the Commonwealth Games, the European Athletics Championships and the World Athletics Championships all set to go ahead in the space of just six weeks.
The World Athletics Championships, which will be hosted by the city of Eugene in Oregon, USA, were originally scheduled for 6-15 August 2021. However, that now clashes with the new dates for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, which have been pushed back 12 months due to the coronavirus pandemic and will now run from 23 July to 8 August 2021.
It means the Worlds are set to be postponed by 12 months too, and will have to jostle for space in a crowded window with the 2022 Commonwealths set to begin on 27 July in Birmingham, and the 2022 European Championships set to start two weeks later on the 11 August in Munich.
Coe said the World Championships would be the “centrepiece” of a busy summer, and although he is in complicated talks with organisers and broadcasters to find a suitable compromise, he insisted other major events would not be entirely sacrificed to make way for the Worlds.
“It's everybody's proposition that we have all three championships,” Coe said. “Ideally, scheduled to help each and every one of us, they will be in the summer of 2022. The fact that we're trying to navigate our way through what is not much more than about six weeks to do all that is clearly challenging.
“I do have a responsibility for the global footprint of the sport. All three [events] are probably going to have to give a bit, and they're probably going to take a bit. Ultimately, the number one objective is ‘how do we do this for the athletes?’
“I'm having conversations by the day, by the hour sometimes, with all those groups, including our partners in Oregon ’21. If I can avoid it, I don’t want to damage two really important championships in our landscape. The World Championships will be centrepiece of 2022, but I also want to reflect that Europe is in large part still the bedrock of the global sport. It's where most American athletes tend to be decamping to, from about May onwards, and the Commonwealth Games covers 70-plus of my member federations as well.”
The only major athletics nation eligible for all three championships is Great Britain, albeit athletes compete under the flags of either England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland at the Commonwealth Games. In a potentially packed summer, British stars like sprinter Dina Asher-Smith would face a difficult decision over which competitions to prioritise, and would likely forgo one or more in order to avoid injury, but Coe insisted a “treble” was possible.
“I do want the treble to be on,” Coe said. “I’m not going to speculate on any further discussions because they are ongoing. I really do want to try and make this work, but there will inevitably be some compromises along the road.”
The upcoming 2020 European Championships in Paris remain scheduled for 25-30 August. The European Athletics Council will next meet via video conference on 7 May, when contingency plans will be discussed.
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