Shortened Diamond League season as World Athletics rejigs 2020 calendar
A new provisional, shortened calendar for the 2020 season of athletics' top-tier Diamond League has been announced, as part of an overall rejig to international athletics this year.
Because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, some events from the original Diamond League schedule have been cancelled and others postponed over the last two months, with meetings now set exclusively for late summer and autumn.
The season will start in Monaco on 14 August, and is scheduled to end in China on 17 October, comprising 11 events in total.
In between these dates, events will take place in Gateshead in the UK, Sweden, Switzerland, Belgium, France, Italy, China, the US, and the UAE.
The plan had been for the season to start much earlier than this, and to end in mid-September. However, events in Qatar, China, Sweden, Italy and Morocco have already been cancelled.
As well as these meetings, earlier today the Anniversary Games in London, on the Diamond League circuit and originally scheduled for 4 and 5 July, was cancelled. The event was set up to commemorate the legacy of the London 2012 Summer Olympics.
Joanna Coates, head of UK Athletics, said the cancellation will "have a significant impact on UK Athletics and wider sport."
In March, she warned that if the games could not take place at London Stadium, then her organisation's finances would take "a hefty blow."
Due to the cancellations and the rescheduling, this season's Diamond League will no longer feature a structured series of meetings leading up to a final, as is the case normally, and no Diamond League points will be earned at the events.
Subsequently, the planned final in Zurich from 9 to 11 September has been cancelled, and the Swiss city will instead host the competition's finals in 2021 and 2022.
This was set to be the Diamond League’s first season with a new title sponsor, after Wanda Group, the Chinese conglomerate, signed a 10-year title sponsorship deal last July, to come into effect at the start of this season.
In a statement, the league’s organisers said: “The meeting organisers, the Wanda Diamond League and World Athletics have remained committed to staging competitions athletes can compete in and that fans can enjoy as soon as the global pandemic allows.
“With this in mind - and with an eye on the range of pandemic-related restrictions currently in place across the world, the decision has been made to propose an alternative calendar for the 2020 season.”
Each of the revised Diamond League events will announce their specific format, including what disciplines will be involved, two months in advance, while the statement also said that “some meeting organisers might choose to stage their events in innovative, alternative formats and/or under social distancing regulations.”
The Diamond League season forms part of the overall 2020 international athletics campaign, which also involves the Continental Tour Gold, the new second-tier track and field series which was designed to launch this year.
Events from that latter competition will also take place throughout August, September and October, at points and in cities where the Diamond League is inactive, it was confirmed today by World Athletics.
The first Continental Tour Gold event will take place in Turkey on 11 August, with the last set for Nairobi on 26 September.
Seb Coe, World Athletics’ president, said: “I’m delighted that it now looks like we will be able to offer (our athletes) a solid international season between August and October where they can earn prize money and assess their training progress in preparation for next year’s Olympic Games.
“Inevitably international travel restrictions will affect the ability of some athletes to attend some meetings, but we hope that there will be a wide enough range of meetings available for most elite athletes to access some competition.”