The many hurdles facing athletics amid the coronavirus crisis

PA Sport Staff
PA Media: Sport

Sport has been put on hold during the coronavirus outbreak which has brought chaos and uncertainty to the calendar.

Here, the PA news agency looks at the main questions surrounding athletics.

What has definitely been cancelled?

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The Olympics in Tokyo were postponed in March after the IOC and Japan’s government bowed to pressure. The Games will now take place 12 months later, starting in late July next summer. Club training sessions, events, competitions, club committee and face-to-face meetings, athlete camps, running groups and social events have all been suspended in England, Scotland and Wales. Many athletes who were preparing for the Olympic and Paralympic Games have had their training venues in the UK shut due to Government guidelines about social distancing. The European Championships in Paris, scheduled for August, is off while the Diamond League has revamped the calendar with the Anniversary Games in London scrapped.

Which events have been postponed and until when?

The World Athletics Indoor Championships in Nanjing became the first athletics event to be postponed in January. It was due to be held in March but has been delayed until next year. The London Marathon – scheduled for April 26 – has been put back until October 4, while the Manchester and Edinburgh marathons are also delayed. The World Athletics Half Marathon Championships in Poland have been moved to October 17. UK Athletics has said the British Championships, which were scheduled for June 20-21, will now be staged on August 8-9 in Manchester, assuming the situation has improved sufficiently by then.

What’s likely to go soon?

The British Championships and the Grand Prix in Gateshead – which doubles as a Diamond League event – remain on the calendar but as the entire sporting schedule gets a dramatic rewrite, it remains to be seen if they need to be moved.

What else is likely to remain on in 2020?

Norway’s Karsten Warholm will compete in the Impossible Games (Martin Rickett/PA)
Norway’s Karsten Warholm will compete in the Impossible Games (Martin Rickett/PA)

The Diamond League has shifted dates and has scrapped the final in Zurich.  It is no longer a series and athletes will not get points this year. It could be the only major event of the year – if it survives. The Diamond League has also announced plans to stage an exhibition event in Oslo in June. The ‘Impossible Games’ will be a behind-closed-doors meet on June 11, in line with the Norwegian government’s coronavirus restrictions.

Where does the sport go from here?

Great Britain’s Katarina Johnson-Thompson was expected to challenge for Olympic heptathlon gold this year (Ian Rutherford/PA)
Great Britain’s Katarina Johnson-Thompson was expected to challenge for Olympic heptathlon gold this year (Ian Rutherford/PA)

The financial implications of cancelling the Anniversary Games are huge for UK Athletics but the damage may not be seen until the end of the year. For the athletes it will be a forgotten year, one which they had prepared for but one which now must be written off.

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