World Athletics, the governing body for track and field competitions, has decided to rebrand indoor athletics events as ‘short track’ competitions which will deal will all competitions held on a 200m track and traditionally staged indoors.
The World Athletics Council unanimously supports the move towards short track and the detailed rule changes required to initiate this innovation will be formally approved at its August meeting in Budapest.
World Athletics is supporting the concept of ‘short track’ competition to allow more flexibility in the setting of 200m tracks, which may, in the future, be constructed outdoors or in temporary city locations, rather than in a traditional indoor arena, the World Athletics informed in a report on its official website.
Once this comes into effect, performances set on outdoor or temporary 200m tracks could therefore be recognised as official results for the purpose of records and rankings.
For more than 150 years, athletics has been divided between ‘outdoor’ competition, staged on a standard 400m oval track, and ‘indoor’ one, which developed in cold climates to provide athletes with an indoor venue, typically a 200m oval track, to train and compete during the winter season.
Because these events were conducted in a different environment, with the closed indoor facility protected from any weather interference, the performances were not regarded as comparable with outdoor marks.
However, with the advent of modern athletics and the development of hybrid competition venues — city squares, shopping malls, and train stations — it is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain the separation between outdoor and indoor athletics.
In some field events, the separation has been eliminated altogether for world record purposes.
This evolution has prompted World Athletics to redefine the boundaries of outdoor and indoor athletics, so they relate to the competition facility rather than to the environment.
World Athletics President Se”astian Coe said: “This change is designed to remove an unintentional barrier to competition innovation, by offering organisers the chance to explore solutions and opportunities which the current rules may discourage.
“Under this new concept, the 200m short track will no longer be confined to the indoor environment, and a world of opportunities will open up for meeting organisers to stage official competition in whatever facilities they have available, either indoors or outdoors, using 200m or 400m tracks.
“This change will allow and actively encourage the possibility for 200m tracks to move to an outdoor environment and will provide a more affordable option to cities, especially where space is in short supply while stimulating the growth of the sport through investment in new infrastructure,” the World Athletics chief added.
Indoor championships (whether at the national, area or world level) would continue to exist but, in those regions/areas where there are no or very limited indoor facilities, short track championships could be held, which would be the equivalent of the indoor championships and could be used as qualifying competitions for major indoor championships.
Events held in temporary facilities (whether part of an event-specific competition or within the frame of a larger competition), could also find a place in the official competition structure as well as in statistics and record books regardless of the environment in which they are conducted.
These will be published in the new edition of the Competition and Technical Rule Book, coming into effect on November 1, 2023.