World Athletics Open to ‘Innovative’ Formats at Olympics


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The new 2020 guide to regulations and competitions by World Athletics revealed changes to competition formats at the world championships or the Olympic Games.

What’s new?

The two major meetings of international athletics are looking for ways to enlarge its competing body of athletes. One such format is by modifying competitions or by introducing elimination races, such as the introduction of a decisive final score in the long jump.

“World Championships and Olympic Games [are] no longer excluded from competitions where events may be held in an alternative format,” said World Athletics.

The innovative format was recently unveiled at the Diamond League in Stockholm, Sweden for the long jump competition. Instead of deciding the best jump from six rounds, the top three after five rounds contested in one final jump.

New format invites criticism

Jumpers at the Diamond League, such as American Olympic long jump champion Tianna Bartoletta, were not happy about the changes and called the new format “a mess”.

She also told reporters at the BBC that this format “[sacrifices] the athlete and their effort for the hope that a spectator is going to care about that moment of drama, when the entire long jump competition is dramatic”.

Similar sentiments were shared by American triple Jumper Christian Taylor, a double Olympic champion and four-time world champion. “I hope this idea does not continue after this season. […] I would like to understand how this could be better than the traditional format.” he tweeted.

A survey by the Athletics Association revealed that 87 per cent of surveyed athletes were also against the new format.

However, Diamond League chief executive Petr Stastny is determined to move forward with the format.

“This format is likely to reward athletes who have the ability to perform under the most intense pressure,” he said. He also commented that with the Olympics being postponed to 2021, this was the right time to try out something new.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced a historic postponement of the Tokyo Olympics to July 2021. The world championships, therefore, will be pushed back to 2022 to accommodate the delay.




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