Diamond League sets out curtailed calendar minus Zurich final

Spain's Orlando Ortega celebrates after winning the men's 110m hurdles at the 2019 edition of the AG Insurance Memorial Van Damme Diamond League meeting (by JASPER JACOBS/AFP via Getty Images)

Organisers of the Diamond League have today (Tuesday) revealed a shortened, provisional calendar that will run through late summer and autumn and excludes the final event that was due to take place in Zurich, Switzerland.

The annual athletics showpiece has announced a series of event suspensions in recent months due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Several events will now be rescheduled, and others cancelled entirely, as organisers continue to adapt the season in the face of the crisis.

The provisional calendar will see a number of Diamond League meetings go ahead as one-off, exhibition events, while others will be staged as adapted meetings. There will be no events in July and the first half of August, with the season extended into October.

The 2020 Diamond League will not be a structured series of events leading to a final as is usually the case, with organisers pointing to the current discrepancies in training and travel opportunities making it impossible to ensure a level playing field and a fair qualification system during 2020. Athletes will therefore not earn Diamond League points this season, and there will not be a single, 24-discipline final in Zurich as originally planned.

The new provisional dates for Diamond League events in 2020 are as follows:

  • August: Monaco (14th), Gateshead (16th) and Stockholm (23rd)
  • September: Lausanne (2nd), Brussels (4th), Paris (6th TBC), (Rome/Naples 17th), Shanghai (19th)
  • October: Eugene (4th), Doha (9th), a second meeting in China (17th, venue TBA)

Rabat’s event on May 31, London’s Anniversary Games on July 4 and Zurich’s final event on September 9-11 have been cancelled.

Organisers said that, due to the extraordinary situation in 2020 and the restructuring of the entire season, Zurich has been granted the right to stage the finals in 2021 and 2022. This was possible after Eugene gave consent for the 2022 final – previously awarded to the US city – to be shifted by one year to 2023.

Although not part of the official calendar, the Diamond League said the Bislett Alliance continues to work on an alternative athletics competition as an exhibition event under Norwegian Covid-19 regulations. This is intended to be staged on June 11, the original date of this year’s Oslo Diamond League meeting.

First revealed last month, the ‘Impossible Games’, which will observe social distancing rules and Covid-19 regulations, is set to include a world record attempt from Norwegian hurdler Karsten Warholm and a long-distance pole vault battle between Mondo Duplantis and Renaud Lavillenie. The hour-long event will be covered by Norwegian public-service broadcaster NRK.

Commenting on the new calendar, the Wanda Diamond League said: “Each meeting organiser will review and announce the format of their competition and which disciplines are included two months before the event takes place so they can work with the prevailing conditions set by their governments.

“This two-month window will also help to give athletes time to prepare mentally, stay motivated and adjust training for competition. Some meeting organisers might choose to stage their events in innovative, alternative formats and/or under social distancing regulations.”

In November last year, World Athletics announced that eight disciplines would be cut from the core programme of the 2020 Diamond League as part of ongoing efforts to create a “faster-paced, more exciting” global series and heighten broadcast appeal.

The announcement came after World Athletics revised a plan announced to cut the number of Diamond League events in 2020, instead launching the new second-tier Continental Tour and adding an extra meet in China. The plan to limit Diamond League broadcasts to 90 minutes remained in place.

In September, World Athletics signed a 10-year international media-rights agreement with the Infront agency, which includes the sale of international rights to the Diamond League, from 2025.