The expanded World Athletics Indoor Tour kicks off on Sunday with the inaugural American Track League event, a Silver level meeting in Fayetteville, USA, which will then set the stage for the Gold meeting series which gets underway one week from today in Karlsruhe, Germany.
Some of the sport’s biggest stars have been confirmed for both meetings, with the likes of Olympic 110m hurdles champion Omar McLeod, world 100m hurdles record holder Kendra Harrison and triple Olympic medallist Andre De Grasse kicking their indoor campaigns off on Fayetteville’s famously fast track while world indoor long jump champion Juan Miguel Echevarria and world 200m champion Dina Asher-Smith have been confirmed for the Indoor Meeting Karlsruhe on 29 January.
But given the ongoing restrictions brought on by the global COVID-19 pandemic, organisers from across the 24-meeting indoor series – five gold level meetings, 11 silver and eight bronze – continue to face near unprecedented challenges as they work to ensure their meetings take place in the safest possible settings and circumstances.
“I have been in a process of constant idea sharing with international colleagues to collect as much experience for the Indoor Meeting as possible,” said Alain Blondel, the Athletes’ Liaison for the Karlsruhe meeting, which has built a strong tradition in the sport since its launch in 1985. “We have a major responsibility towards our fans, the athletes as well as the numerous helpers, to carry out the meeting as best we can.”
Planning for the meeting began last June, Blondel said, framed by a continually changing landscape of local, regional and national regulations and restrictions. For Karlsruhe that ultimately meant capping the total number of people allowed access to the Europahalle venue to 200, 120 of those athletes, and no spectators.
Organisers have created a meeting bubble, meaning that all participants entering the competition venue, meeting hotel or production office will have to produce a negative COVID-19 test prior to entry. All participants’ movements within the bubble areas will be recorded through transponder technology.
“For this purpose, we are collaborating with a professional team with the relevant experience when it comes to elite sports,” said Thomas Sauer, who is responsible for the meeting’s hygiene and contact tracing system.
“We are aware of the fact that we have a special responsibility in light of this dynamic situation, which is why we are constantly adapting our measures to the current developments. We are in a close consultation with the health department, the public order office and the international federations. Consequently, our hygiene concept combines regional and international expertise.”
After Karlsruhe, the Gold meeting series will resume 11 days later in Lievin, France on 9 February, then continue in Boston (13 February) and Torun, Poland (17 February) before its finale in Madrid on 24 February. Unfortunately, cancellation of the Millrose Games in New York has affected the distribution of some scoring disciplines.
Broadcast and livestream details will be announced closer to the meeting dates.
The scoring disciplines on the World Athletics Indoor Tour rotate each year. For 2021 the Gold level scoring disciplines will be:
Men: 400m, 1500m, 60m hurdles, high jump, long jump
Women: 60m, 800m, 3000m/5000m, pole vault, triple jump, shot put
Each athlete’s best three results will count towards their overall point score. The athlete with the most points in each scoring discipline at the end of the tour will be declared the winner and will be awarded a USD$10,000 bonus along with a wild card entry for the World Athletics Indoor Championships Belgrade22.
With the further postponement of the World Indoor Championships, World Indoor Tour organisers agreed that wildcard invitations would be dispersed as follows:
– Winners in 2021 and 2022 will receive a wildcard for the 2022 World Indoor Championships in Belgrade
– Winners in 2022 and 2023 will receive a wildcard for the 2023 World Indoor Championships in Nanjing
– Winners in 2023 and 2024 will receive a wildcard for the 2024 World Indoor Championships