Britain's Gateshead to host opening event of 2021 Diamond League season

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(Reuters) - Britain will stage the first meeting of the 2021 Diamond League season at the Gateshead International Stadium in May after COVID-19 restrictions ruled out Morocco as hosts, organisers said on Friday.

Rabat had been due to host the opening meeting on May 23 but Gateshead will now be the first stop on this year's circuit, which ends in Zurich in September.

It will be the first time that Gateshead has hosted a Diamond League meeting since 2010.

"It was absolutely essential for us to be able to support our athletes' preparations for Tokyo with the staging of a world-class event next month, as well as assist the Diamond League," said UK Athletics CEO Joanna Coates.

Diamond League said that the Oslo meeting, initially scheduled for June 10, had been pushed back to July 1 to comply with the COVID-19 restrictions in Norway.

The Rome meeting, initially scheduled for June 4, will now be held on June 10 in Florence.

"As Rome's Stadio Olimpico is already a host venue for this summer’s European Championships in football, the meeting traditionally based in the Italian capital will instead be held at the Stadio Luigi Ridolfi in Florence," organisers added.

The 2021 calendar remains subject to further changes depending on the global health situation, organisers added.

The 2020 calendar was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, with several events cancelled and others rescheduled.

(Reporting by Manasi Pathak in Bengaluru; editing by Clare Fallon)