Nanjing received an additional vote of confidence from the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) last week, when it was awarded the right to host a new track and field meeting added to the World Challenge calendar for 2019.
The competition, which will be held at the Nanjing Olympic Sports Centre on May 21, will also serve as a prelude to the city’s appointment as host of the IAAF World Indoor Championships in 2020.
Nanjing now finds itself in the enviable position of hosting an unofficial dress rehearsal for China’s inaugural attempt at staging the World Indoor Championships, while giving the IAAF, not to mention the global track and field community writ large, a taste of what to expect next year.
Formed in 2010, the World Challenge series features several one-day meets held across the season. The meeting in Nanjing will be the fourth event of the series, following competitions in Brazil, Jamaica and Japan. Nanjing replaces Madrid, which will not host an IAAF World Challenge event this year.
Nanjing’s status as host of a World Challenge event reflects its strong standing in the eyes of the IAAF. It also suggests the governing body’s growing focus on promoting cities beyond its normal purview; Nanjing hosted the National Games of the People’s Republic of China in 2005, the Asian Youth Games in 2013 and the Summer Youth Olympics in 2014, but it is relatively unaccustomed to receiving considerations of such prominence.
“I look forward to celebrating the very best of world athletics in 2020 in Nanjing”, IAAF President, Sebastian Coe, KBE, said following Nanjing’s appointment as host of the World Indoor Championships in November 2017. “The hosting of these championships will assist the development of an already established and growing culture of athletics in the country.”
With the addition of Nanjing and the loss of Madrid, the number of World Challenge series events scheduled for this season remains at nine. The same number of events was held last year, including competitions in Jamaica, Japan, the Netherlands and Spain. But China did not feature on the 2018 calendar.
That will change in 2019.