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IAAF decision on Olympic walks

Published by in Race walking ·
IAAF Council approves "in principle" reduction of 50km distance in race walking after Tokyo 2020
11 March 2019

Announcing the decision today, the IAAF President Sebastian Coe revealed that two of the following distances would be chosen for race walking events after 2020 – 10km, 20km, 30km or 35km.

The proposals, approved during the two-day IAAF Council meeting in Doha, have been widely criticised by top race walkers, largely through a new group created by a former Italian race walker, Stefano La Sorda.
Many Centurions and British race walkers have also opposed the propopsals.

Among those against the new plans are Britain's Commonwealth Games silver medallist Tom Bosworth and Canada's Evan Dunfee, fourth in the 2016 Olympic 50km race walk.

Others to have put their protest on record include Australia's London 2012 50km champion Jared Tallent, Rio 2016 50km champion Matej Tóth of Slovakia, France's world 50km record holder and champion Yohann Diniz and inaugural women's world 50km champion Ines Henriquez.

But Coe today made out the case - which was supported with accompanying details of a revamped and streamlined IAAF Diamond League format from 2020 onwards - for a sport intent on maximising its appeal to new and younger audiences, with a close eye on television viewers.

"Today we had a spirited and detailed debate and discussion on race walking, as we should have done, and the recommendations from the [IAAF] Race Walking Committee," Coe said.

"The Council agreed in principle with the Race Walking Committee's proposals to change the competition programme for race walking in order to protect and to promote the discipline at major international championships and its appeal and attractiveness to new and younger audiences.

"The Council specifically agreed with the importance of, firstly, maintaining a four-medal discipline with two men's and two women's events at all major international competitions.

"Second, continuing to prioritise investment in and development of the race walking control system, i.e the race walking chip and its sole technology.

"Thirdly testing and validating technology in competition during and beyond 2020 if necessary.

"And, finally, to roll out two of the following events - the 10, the 20, the 30 or 35k post 2020."

The IAAF Race Walking Committee is chaired by Maurizio Damilano, the 1980 Olympic gold medallist and two-time world champion over 20km.

The Italian has claimed the changes are crucial for the future of the sport.

"The Committee is very proud of the history and the tradition of our events, but our main goal right now is to secure the future of race walking beyond Tokyo 2020 and offer to the young generations of race walkers nothing less and even more than what we already have, because it is very crucial for our sport to have four individual events and total equality on the World Championships and future Olympic Games programmes," he said.

"Changes are not always an easy thing, but it is absolutely necessary to make race walking more appealing for fans and for young athletes.

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