IAAF returns to Australia with 2021 World Cross Country Championships

Australia will host an International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Athletics Series event for the first time in 25 years after Bathurst, New South Wales was awarded the 2021 World Cross Country Championships.

The event will be held at one of Australia’s most famous sporting venues, the Mount Panorama motorsport circuit, on March 20, 2021.

The IAAF said the varied landscape and altitude around the iconic race track offers a range of challenging options for cross country running. The event will also benefit from the established major event facilities on site, including grandstands, administration offices, team areas and a full media centre, which will significantly reduce the costs and complexity of organising the biennial championships.

Sydney’s 1996 World U20 Championships was the last major IAAF event held in Australia. Athletics Australia president Mark Arbib said: “As recreational running continues to grow in Australia, the World Cross Country represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our elite runners to race on home soil, but also for our community runners to celebrate the sport and be involved in running events planned to take place during the championships.

“Having this event in Australia and on the iconic Bathurst site will allow everyday Australians to test themselves on the same challenging course that the world’s best will run.”

The first official World Cross Country Championships were held in Belgium in 1973. A cross country race was included in the Olympic Games in 1912, 1920 and 1924, and there is currently a campaign for the discipline to return to the Olympic programme in Paris in 2024.

The most recent World Cross Country Championships was held in Kampala, Uganda in 2017, with the next edition to be held in Aarhus, Denmark on March 30 this year.