On April 8, World Athletics and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced a new Olympic event in athletics that will debut at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.
— World Athletics (@WorldAthletics) April 8, 2023
The new event is the race walk marathon mixed relay, which will feature 25 teams, each comprising one male and one female athlete, who will complete the marathon distance (42.195 km) in four alternating legs of 10.54 km.
The event, scheduled to take place at 7.30 a.m. on Aug. 7, 2024, will be held on the same course as the individual race walking events at the foot of the world’s iconic Eiffel Tower.
The relay event will replace the men’s 50 km race walk, which was dropped following its last appearance at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. The 50 km race walk had appeared on every Olympic program since the event made its debut at the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles (apart from Montreal 1976).
World Athletics had proposed the inclusion of the women’s 50 km event, but the IOC rejected the idea, which led to a consultation between the IOC and World Athletics on this new mixed-gender relay event.
Canadian Olympian and the reigning Olympic 50 km bronze medallist, Evan Dunfee, was unhappy to hear the news regarding the new event, especially after the 50 km race was cut for a more gender-balanced competition.
“In 2017, we were told there was no way to have a women’s 50 km walk in Tokyo because it was ‘impossible’ to change the program three years out. Now, less than 500 days away from the start of the 2024 Olympics, we’ve had our event completely changed,” Dunfee said on Twitter. “There is no endurance event for the race walk, which is what the event needs to be to make any sense.”
This new change is stupid. Even if it potentially benefits me personally as Olivia & I likely have a better shot at qualifying for this than the 35km relay, though they haven’t even released selection criteria yet, so who knows 🤷♂️. And honestly I can hardly bring myself to care.
— Evan Dunfee (@EvanDunfee) April 8, 2023
The current Olympic race walk program for the Paris Games has two individual 20 km race walk events and the mixed marathon relay.
When asked about the future of the sport, Dunfee shared, “Sadly, I suspect by Brisbane 2032, race walking will cease to exist.”