The start of the men's 20km race walk at the IAAF World Race Walking Team Championships Taicang 2018 (© Getty Images)
The IAAF Race Walking Committee has made several key recommendations to the IAAF Council following broad consultation and consideration of the feedback from member federations, athletes, event organisers and several stakeholders (including broadcasters).
The three major recommendations, agreed at a meeting in Monaco last weekend, reflect the reality that the event programme across all major athletics meetings and events will become shorter and more dynamic so innovation is required in Race Walk to ensure it remains a core discipline in the World Championships and the Olympic Games.
• Equality between the sexes should be achieved in Olympic Games and maintained in all major international competitions, with two men’s and two women’s events included on championships programmes;
• Distances for senior competitions should be changed from 20km and 50km to 10km and 30km from the 2023 World Championships
• RWECS electronic chip insole technology should be incorporated into competitions from 2021
To implement the change in distances, a specific pathway was outlined that would give race walkers a three-year transition period in which to adapt to and prepare for competitions over the new distances. Implementation of the RWECS technology to assist judges to identify athletes who have lost contact with the ground would only be adopted in 2021 if the necessary tests, introduction and distribution of the insole chips are concluded by the end of 2020.
|Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games||20km / 50km||20km*|
|Oregon 2021 World Athletics Championships||20km / 30km||20km / 30km|
|2022 Race Walking Team Championships||10km / 30km||10km / 30km|
|Budapest 2023 World Athletics Championships||10km / 30km||10km / 30km|
|Paris 2024 Olympic Games||10km / 30km||10km / 30km|
*At its December 2018 meeting, Council made a recommendation to propose to the IOC that the women’s 50km be added to the Tokyo programme.
Committee chairperson Maurizio Damilano, the 1980 Olympic champion and two-time world champion over 20km distance, said: “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 (two male and two female) and total equality on the World Championships and future Olympic Games programmes. Changes are not always an easy thing, but it is absolutely necessary to make race walking more appealing for fans and for young athletes.”
Robert Korzeniowski, a three-time Olympic and three-time world champion in the 50km event, and also a member of the committee, supported the recommendations, even if they meant the removal of his signature event from the championships programme.
“As you know my heart is passionate about the 50km, and all the great achievements and medals I won were in 50km, but the world is changing fast and we need to be realistic, to move forward and be brave in order to be relevant with the broadcast and digital media and to secure the future of race walking in major competitions. The numbers in 50km are not very promising and if we care about the development and the healthy status of our event, this is the only way to do it. I have no doubt that 30km is a distance that will provide equal opportunities to endurance race walkers to perform and achieve their goals.”
The IAAF Race Walking Committee recommendations will be included in the agenda of the next IAAF Council Meeting, 10-11 March 2019, and if the recommendations of the Committee are approved, the changes will be effective as of 1 January 2021.