In July, World Athletics (WA) said it would lobby to get cross-country included in the Paris 2024 Olympics. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) dashed any hopes of an Olympic cross-country race in Paris, though, as it was announced on Monday that breakdancing would make its Olympic debut instead. This decision comes as part of the IOC’s efforts to showcase more youth-focused events that are “inclusive, engaging and can be practised outside conventional arenas.” The IOC also noted that the 50K race walk has officially been cut from the 2024 program, and it will be replaced by a new (but so far undetermined) mixed-gender athletics event.
No XC in 2024
WA released a statement following news of the IOC’s decision to pass on cross-country for the 2024 Games. “Cross-country is an exciting and fast-growing sport around the world, so we are clearly disappointed it will not feature at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games,” the statement reads. “However, we have developed what we believe is a really exciting mixed relay product and have been encouraged by the commitment from the IOC that they will continue to work with us to realize our vision of seeing cross-country in a future Olympic Games.”
WA’s plan for the cross-country event, which was released in July, featured slots for 15 countries, each of which would have had a team of two men and two women. The race would have been a 20K relay in which each runner covered two laps of a 2.5K course. Had cross-country been approved for the 2024 program, it would have been the first time the sport was included in the Olympics since the 1924 Games, which were also held in Paris.
Produces more drama than many other Athletics events, not just 20km. Plus medal potential from every Area Federation, and men and women can race side by side.
But with no fancy VIP booths and no houseless to be displaced for a big stadium, it’s clear why the IOC never liked it. https://t.co/bGCs631W3c
— Evan Dunfee (@EvanDunfee) December 7, 2020
Replacing the 50K
Gender equality is the other main focus (in addition to youth) of the IOC heading toward 2024. The Tokyo Olympics are set to have females represent 48.8 per cent of all athletes competing at the Games next summer, but the IOC announced that it will be a 50-50 split in Paris with the same number of male and female athletes. Because of this, the 50K race walk was cut, as it has traditionally only been contested by men. The IOC has given WA until May 31, 2021, to propose a new mixed-gender event to replace the 50K race walk. In the WA response to the IOC’s news, it says officials are “only considering a mixed-gender race walk event” to replace the 50K.