World Indoors in China postponed due to coronavirus
World Athletics have confirmed the championships will now take place next year
Taiwanese wearing face masks ride motorbikes in Taipei, Taiwan. The coronavirus originating from Wuhan, China, has spread to all the 31 provinces of China as well as more than a dozen countries, including nine cases in Taiwan. The outbreak of coronavirus has so far claimed 170 lives and infected more than 8,000 others, according to media reports. Photo: David Chang/EPA
The 2020 World Indoor Athletics Championships set to take place in Nanjing in China in March have been postponed until next year due to the outbreak of the coronavirus.
With efforts to contain the virus reaching critical point, World Athletics announced the decision “with regret”, confirming in a statement the Championships will now take place in March of 2021 at the same host city.
“It is with regret that we have agreed with the organisers of the World Athletics Indoor Championships in Nanjing (March 13-15th) to postpone the event to March 2021.
“We know that China is doing all it can to contain the new Coronavirus and we support them in all their efforts but it is necessary to provide our athletes, Member Federations and partners with a clear way forward in what is a complex and fast-moving set of circumstances.
“The advice from our medical team, who are in contact with the World Health Organisation, is that the spread of the Coronavirus both within China and outside the country is still at a concerning level and no one should be going ahead with any major gathering that can be postponed.
“We have considered the possibility of relocating the event to another country and would like to thank the cities that have volunteered to host the championships. However, given concerns still exist regarding the spread of the virus outside China, we have decided not to go with this option, as it may lead to further postponement at a later date.
“The indoor season for athletics falls within a narrow calendar window (up to the end of March) and we believe we will be able to find a suitable date in 2021 to host this event. We would like Nanjing to be the host given the extensive planning and preparation they have put into this event.
“We have chosen not to cancel the championships as many of our athletes would like this event to take place so we will now work with our athletes, our partners and the Nanjing organising committee to secure a date in 2021 to stage this event.”
The Championships were not expected to feature in the plans of many Irish athletes, Ciara Mageean already confirming her decision to bypass the event given her focus on the Tokyo Olympics.
There is also a European Indoor Championships set for Torun, Poland in March of 2021, the European Athletics Federation confirming these will take place two weeks before the World Indoors in order to facilitate athletes that may want to compete in both.
In a statement they said: “Following the announcement by World Athletics to postpone the World Athletics Indoor Championships in Nanjing to March 2021, European Athletics confirms it was consulted regarding this decision considering any potential implication on the European Athletics Indoor Championships scheduled in Torun, Poland from March 5th- 7th 2021.”
European Athletics President Svein Arne Hansen added: “Of course I was consulted by Sebastian Coe (World Athletics president) and Jon Ridgeon (CEO) before the decision was made as I sit on the World Athletics Council. We agreed a minimum of two weeks between the European Indoor Championships and the World Indoor Championships in 2021 so the athletes have the best chance to attend both.
“European Athletics always works hand in hand with World Athletics for the benefit of the sport as a whole and for the overall welfare of the athletes.”