The World Athletics Relays, scheduled to be held in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou in May 2023 have been postponed until 2025, track and field’s governing body announced Monday.
World Athletics said the decision was taken with the agreement of both the Guangzhou organising committee and the Chinese Athletics Association “due to the ongoing pandemic conditions”.
The postponement impacts the qualification system for the relay events at next year’s World Athletics Championships in Budapest.
“The World Athletics Competition Commission, upon approval of the Council, has revised the qualification system to include the top eight teams from the World Athletics Championships Oregon22 and the top eight teams from the performance lists,” World Athletics said in a statement.
World Athletics president Sebastian Coe said the postponement was “regrettable”.
“However, World Athletics and the local organising committee are both committed to the responsible planning and delivery of the World Athletics Relays, which includes ensuring that athletes from all international federations are able to participate in and enjoy an experience in a safe and healthy environment,” Coe said.
The host of the 2024 World Athletics Relays is set to be awarded by the World Athletics Council at their meeting in Rome on November 30.
The world relays are not the first track and field event to have been postponed in China.
The World Athletics Half Marathon Championships, due to take place in Yangzhou in November, were cancelled, while the two Diamond League meetings scheduled to take place in China this year were removed from the calendar due to Covid restrictions.
China is the last major economy welded to a zero-Covid strategy, persisting with snap lockdowns, mass testing and lengthy quarantines in a bid to keep infections to a minimum.
But fast-spreading virus variants have challenged that approach in recent months, with shutdowns and an ever-shifting patchwork of curbs sparking public exasperation and rare pockets of protest.