The stage has now been fully set for the 2019 IAAF World Relays, with Yokohama, Japan now chosen as the host city after the Bahamas dropped out for financial reasons.
This latest development now sees Japan hosting two international competitions in a row, with the World Relays on 11-12th May falling just one year before the highly anticipated 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
Yokohama will now become only the second ever city to host the World Relays after the Bahamas capital Nassau had hosted each of the first three championships in 2014, 2015 and 2017.
Unfortunately for Nassau however, the Bahamas government have simply been unable to promise the financial security needed to host the tournament this year.
IAAF President Seb Coe however has expressed confidence that Yokohama can be a strong replacement.
“I am delighted that Yokohama has stepped in to host our youngest World Athletics Series event and I am confident that they will do an outstanding job despite the short preparation period,” Coe said.
“Several of our Member Federations expressed interest in hosting the popular IAAF World Relays next year and I thank them for their efforts, which confirm the appeal of what is a very entertaining team-based competition with a unique spirit.
“Japanese crowds are renowned for their enthusiastic support and I am sure they will give our athletes a tremendous reception next year.”
Jamaica had previously been one of the leading candidates to take over hosting from the Bahamas. However, much like Nassau, the Jamaican government also ran into the same financial issues and were unable to become the new host.
The Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) President Warren Blake expressed his disappointment to the Jamaican Gleaner, stating:
“It is disappointing, but it is what it is…if the Government felt at this time it was hard, with the given economic situation, then that is it.
“The decision was for Jamaica to say we could afford to host the event, and we needed the Government to say they could come up with the financial backing.”
Therefore, it is Yokohama who will now step forward to bring more of the world’s top athletes to its shores, with President of the Japan Association of Athletics Federations Hiroshi Yokokawa expressing his excitement at hosting the competition.
“The Bahamas have left important footprints on the history of athletics by organising the IAAF World Relays for the past three editions, and it is an honour and privilege for Japan to receive the baton from them,” Yokokawa said.
“The hosting of the World Relays will provide us a platform and opportunity to build up towards the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. The advancement of athletics in Japan is closely integrated with our relay culture, and there is strong interest and excitement to welcome the top runners from around the world.
“With seven months to go, we promise to showcase the best competition and to mark a new page in the history of the World Relays.”
The competition will take place in the Yokohama International Stadium, which is also set be a host of the Rugby World Cup later that year.