April 8, 2020
World Athletics announced on Wednesday that the next World Athletics Championships will take place in Eugene, Oregon, from July 15-24, 2022. The meet had originally been scheduled for August 6-15, 2021, but was rescheduled after the Tokyo Olympics were moved from 2020 to 2021 due to the global coronavirus pandemic.
July 15 is the earliest start date in the history of the World Championships — this is the first time any part of the meet will take place in July (the 1997 Worlds were held from August 1-10 in Athens) — and was chosen so that it would not interfere with the two major championships already scheduled for the summer of 2022: the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham (July 27-August 7) and the European Championships in Munich (August 11-22).
“We would not have chosen to have three major championships back-to-back but it will give us a unique opportunity to promote our sport and its stars around the globe over a six-week period,” said World Athletics president Seb Coe.
LRC Quick Takes
1) This was an acceptable solution in a difficult situation
Once the Olympics were pushed back to 2021, it was obvious Worlds should move back to 2022. Holding an Olympics and Worlds in the same year would be moronic, and with no global outdoor championship in 2022, pushing Worlds to that summer was the obvious choice.
Considering the Commonwealth Games and European Championships are large, multi-sport events, it’s unlikely World Athletics would have the political power to move their dates. That meant WA had two options: hold Worlds before Commonwealths/Euros or hold Worlds after Commonwealths/Euros.
Generally we believe in holding the most important meet of the year at the end of the year. Worlds didn’t finish until October last year and they were spectacular, so holding a Worlds in late August or early September would have been our preference. You could run the normal DL season through mid-July and then paused it as the Commonwealth/European athletes went to those championships and the US athletes went to the US championships.
However, it’s clear World Athletics didn’t want to do that as they feared the damage it would do to Commonwealths/Europeans.
“More than 70 of our member federations are part of the Commonwealth and more than 50 of our member federations are European so our guiding principle in rescheduling the World Championships was to ensure enough space was created around the centerpiece World Athletics Championship for athletes to choose other major events to compete in. We were also very mindful that we did not want to damage the other major championships in 2022, because they are also very important to our sport,” said Coe in a prepared statement.
So while the early 2022 Worlds setup isn’t optimal for US fans or athletes (since they won’t have anything to do in August), it maximizes the talent at all three meets. Had Worlds been last on the schedule, we imagine many athletes would have skipped Commonwealth/Euros to focus entirely on Worlds. We may still see withdrawals from the latter two meets after Worlds, but the overall talent level will still likely be higher as an athlete is much less likely to be worried about being a little bit past their peak for a European Championship than a World Championship.
As for the early start date, that shouldn’t be much of an issue. We just had a World Championships in October and the performances were sensational. Athletes will aim to peak in the middle of July and plan their season accordingly.
2) It’s going to be a busy two months for American track fans as well (just a different two months)
If you’re an American track & field fan, you may as well move to Eugene from May-July 2022. Check out the potential 2022 calendar:
May 27-28: Prefontaine Classic*
June 8-11: NCAA Championships
June 23-26: USATF Outdoor Championships*
July 15-24: World Athletics Championships
The dates for the Pre Classic aren’t confirmed, but it’s usually held on Memorial Day or the first weekend in June. Likewise, the dates and location for USAs haven’t been announced, but the last weekend in June makes the most sense as it’s right between NCAAs and Worlds. And considering Eugene is hosting Worlds, we’re guessing it will host the Trials as well, though it’s possible USATF stages that meet elsewhere if Eugene doesn’t want to add another meet to its plate.
The new Hayward Field may not be able to get the grand opening it was supposed to in 2020, but American track fans will have plenty of chances to visit over the next few years.
The proposed schedule above would also work out nicely for American athletes. A two-week gap between NCAAs and USAs is common, and a three-week gap between USAs and Worlds should work nicely. We actually like that a lot more than what happened last year, when there was a nine-week gap between USAs and Worlds — far too big.
3) What will the Diamond League calendar look like in 2022?
If we go by the original 2020 Diamond League calendar, the first 11 meets were scheduled to take place before July 10, with the final four from August 16-September 11, with a five-week break for the Olympics. But in 2022, there will be a World Championships, followed by a Commonwealth Games, followed by a European Championships.
So what does that mean for the Diamond League? Will it go on hiatus during August (leaving non-Commonwealth/Euro athletes with no major competition opportunities) or will they hold meets, knowing that top Commonwealth/Euro athletes may skip it (not ideal when you consider 10 of the 15 meets are based in Europe)? Or will the DL eliminate some meets and trim the calendar from 15 down to 10 or 12? Thankfully the DL and its meet directors have some time to tackle this issue.
We’ve reached out to both World Athletics and the Diamond League to see if they have any idea as to which way they are leaning and will let you know if we hear back from them.