Event will not take place this March following coronavirus outbreak in China
The World Athletics Indoor Championships will no longer take place in Nanjing from March 13-15 following the coronavirus outbreak in China, World Athletics has announced.
The governing body says the event has been postponed, rather than cancelled, with the championships to be rescheduled for March 2021.
Figures published by the World Health Organisation on Wednesday state that globally there have so far been 6065 confirmed cases of the virus, with 132 deaths in China.
“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,” World Athletics said in a statement.
“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.”
Major events like this have moved in the past. The 2001 World Cross Country Championships was due to be held in Dublin but following the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease it shifted firstly to Brussels and then Ostend in Belgium at late notice.
But this year’s World Indoors will not move to another venue and the governing body added: “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 European Indoor Championships is set to take place on March 5-7 next year, in Toruń, Poland.
Following the announcement from World Athletics, European Athletics president Svein Arne Hansen said: “Yes, of course I was consulted by Sebastian Coe and Jon Ridgeon 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.”
» This post was updated on January 30 to include a statement from European Athletics