Diamond League Announces 2021 Schedule; Pre Classic Will Be on August 21

By Jonathan Gault
November 24, 2020

Today the Diamond League announced the schedule for its 2021 season, which is set to begin on May 23 in Rabat. The season consists of 14 meets and culminates with a two-day final in Zurich on September 8-9. The Diamond League noted that “the calendar is strictly provisional at this stage and remains subject to changes depending on the global health situation in 2021.”

The full schedule can be found below (courtesy Wanda Diamond League). We’ve added in the US Olympic Trials and Olympics to the schedule to give you a full picture of what the big meets will look like.

Rabat MAR May 23rd
Doha QAT May 28th
Rome ITA June 4th
Oslo NOR June 10th
US Olympic Trials USA June 18th-27th
Stockholm SWE July 4th
Monaco MON July 9th
London GBR July 13th
Olympics JPN July 30th – August 8th
Shanghai CHN August 14th
Eugene USA August 21st
China2 CHN August 22nd
Lausanne SUI August 26th
Paris FRA August 28th
Brussels BEL September 3rd
Zürich SUI September 8th – 9th
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A few quick takes on the schedule…

Quick Take: May 23 is the latest scheduled start date ever

Apart from the 2020 season, which saw major restructuring due to COVID-19, May 23 will be the latest start date in the Diamond League’s 12-year history. That makes sense as obviously officials want to wait as long as possible out of the hope that the COVID-19 pandemic either dies down naturally or is squashed by the new vaccines.

This will also be the first time the season is scheduled to start anywhere other than Doha, as Rabat will host the first meet and Doha the second on May 28.

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Quick Take: London goes from two days to one & shifts to Tuesday, while the second UK meet has been eliminated entirely

The fate of the UK’s Diamond League meets was fairly uncertain as UK Athletics have been placed in a precarious financial situation following the expiration of its lucrative broadcast contract with the BBC. The UK hosted two Diamond Leagues every year from 2010-19, but it seemed likely that the second meet — which would have taken place in Gateshead while Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium undergoes renovations ahead of the 2022 Commonwealth Games — would be axed to save money for UK Athletics. The London Diamond League remains, but instead of being held as a two-day weekend event, it will be staged as a one-day meet on Tuesday, July 13. London will be the last DL meet before the Olympics.

Quick Take: The Prefontaine Classic returns to Eugene (and a brand-new Hayward Field) for the first time in three years

The Pre Classic is typically held on the final weekend of May or the first weekend of June, but in 2021 it will take take place after the Olympics, on August 21. Presumably, this is to give the meet the best chance possible of having fans in the stands at the brand new Hayward Field.

Hayward Field will finally host the Pre Classic again on August 21

It will be a welcome return to Eugene for the Pre Classic, which was staged at Stanford University in 2019 as Hayward underwent reconstruction and was not held at all in 2020 due to COVID-19. Here’s what the major events calendar is supposed to look like at Hayward in 2021:

NCAA Championships: June 9-12
US Olympic Trials: June 18-27
Prefontaine Classic: August 21

Quick Take: The second China meet still doesn’t have a venue

One of the conditions of Wanda coming along as the Diamond League’s title sponsor last year was that China would get a second Diamond League meet (Wanda is based in China). 2020 was supposed to be the first year of the second Chinese meet, but that meet was scheduled, postponed, and cancelled without a venue ever being announced. Now, a year later, a venue still hasn’t been announced. The meet — wherever it ends up — is scheduled for August 22, the day after the Pre Classic. Clearly, the two meets will draw on a different pool of athletes.

The two Chinese meets are eight days apart from each other and come immediately after the Olympics, which was obviously set up to limit travel. An athlete could go straight from the Olympics in Japan to China.

Quick Take: There will be four meets in eight days on three continents in August

The Olympics wrap up on August 8, but there are still seven DL meets on the calendar after that. Most notably, there will be four meets in an eight-day span in August: Eugene (August 21), China (August 22), Lausanne (August 26), and Paris (August 28). That’s not ideal and may cause some viewer fatigue, but hopefully the Diamond League is smart enough to ensure that none of the events scheduled to be held in Eugene are also held in China and none of the events scheduled for Lausanne are also held in Paris. Still, it will be a tough turnaround for any athletes trying to compete in both Eugene/China and Lausanne.

And then it’s only a short gap before the DL season ends. All told, there are six meets in 20 days at the end of the season. With the late start to the year, things were bound to be tight at some point in the season unless the DL wanted to extend the season beyond traditional early September end date.