Cross country racing will be back on the Olympic calendar after 100-year absence
Cross country racing will be back on the Olympic calendar after 100-year absence Image Credit: European Athletics

Dubai: The World Athletics (WA) Council has included a cross-country event to the Olympic Games schedule, starting with the 2024 Paris Games.

The decision for a new cross-country event was taken on the second and final day of the WA Council meeting, late on Thursday. As per the early indications, the proposed event starting with the 2024 Paris Olympic Games would have a mixed team cross-country relay for 15 nations.


Each team would be composed of two men and two women. Each member of the team would run two legs of the 2.5km course, alternating between male and female athletes as each athlete completes the 2.5km course and hands over to a teammate.

As per the recommendations, WA will now meet with the Paris 2024 organising committee in the near future to work out further details of the proposal.

World Athletics President Sebastian Coe was delighted at the prospect of cross country returning to the Olympic Games 100 years after it last appeared at the 1924 Paris Games. “My love for athletics began with cross country,” Coe told other Council members.

“When I joined my first athletics club [Hallamshire Harriers], the club president was Joe Williams, who ran in the last Olympic cross country race in Paris in 1924. It would be hugely symbolic for this wonderful athletic discipline to return to the fold after a century, and for a new generation of runners to fall in love with the glorious challenge of running off-piste,” he added.

Meanwhile, new dates have been announced for the World Athletics Series events that have been postponed due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

The World U20 Championships Nairobi 2020 and the World Athletics Race Walking Team Championships Minsk 2020 will now be held from August 17 to 22, just one week after the Tokyo Olympic Games, while the Minsk event in Belarus has been slated for April 23-24, 2022.

The World Athletics Half Marathon Championships to be held in Yangzhou, China, in 2022 have also had a small date change while moving back one week, from March 20 to March 27.

In a separate decision, WA has assured that national championships will be protected from calendar clashes until after the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. The decision was announced after a ground-breaking agreement signed between National Federations (NFs) and the WA Global Calendar Unit.

The new agreement means elite athletes will no longer be put in a quandary between attending their national trials and fulfilling sponsors’ requirements by turning out in one-day commercial meetings in the Wanda Diamond League or the Continental Tour. Last year’s programme saw a clash between the British Championships and the Paris Diamond Legue meeting.

Until the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted this year’s competition schedule, the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene - part of the Wanda Diamond League programme - was due to be held on June 7, clashing with the two-day German national trials, that regularly draw attendance in excess of 50,000.