Coe Floats Ideas of Tokyo Hosting World Championships and Ekiden at World Road Running Championships
World Athletics president Sebastian Coe sat for an interview with the Asahi Newspaper. Coe indicated that the Tokyo Olympics, which came to a conclusion on Aug. 8, had reaffirmed to him the popularity of track and field in Japan. Indicating that he wanted to give something back to Japan, Coe hinted at the possibility of the World Championships returning to Tokyo.
At a press conference held Aug. 8 in conjunction with the closing of the Tokyo Olympics, Coe said, "I have tremendous gratitude to Japan for preparing a truly special stage on which our athletes could perform. I promise to bring athletics back to Japan at a time when everyone can be a part of it."
In the Asahi interview, Coe indicated that there is a possibility that Tokyo will be awarded the 2025 World Championships, the venue of which has yet to be decided. One reason he cited was Tokyo's new Olympic Stadium, for which the problem of a post-Games use looms large. At the Olympics the track and stadium earned high praise among the athletes, who produced 3 new world records, 12 Olympic records, and 151 national and area records there. "It is my earnest hope that this stadium will play host to the World Championships in the years to come," said Coe. "It is a truly first-rate stadium and state-or-the-art in its equipment."
Behind the positive words lies the reaction from the Japanese side when Coe has visited the country over the last year. "I spoke directly with Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike, the commissioner of the Japan Sports Agency, and with Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology minister Koichi Hagiuda," Coe said. "All of them were focused on the legacy that athletics can leave behind in Tokyo and expressed the desire to make use of the Olympic Stadium."
But there is one significant problem, that of the warm-up track issue. The warm-up track used for the Olympics was built as a temporary facility on rented land owned by Meiji Shrine. Its future remains completely unknown. Even so, Coe's faith remained unwavering. He emphasized that the Olympic Games' legacy is the responsibility of the government to nurture and said that he had received enthusiastic support from those in authority. "They promised that the warm-up track would remain along with the track inside the stadium," he said.
Coe also brought up the prospect of Japan's ekiden style of racing being embraced worldwide. World Athletics will launch a new World Road Running Championships in 2023 focusing on distances other than the marathon. Coe indicated that it would not be a surprise to see the ekiden listed among the events under consideration for inclusion in the Championships.
translated by Brett Larner