World Athletics has unveiled a new range of cutting-edge equipment designs that aim to enhance the event experience for both fans at the venue and watching at home, while UK Athletics (UKA) has reached a settlement agreement that will see this year’s Anniversary Games moved away from London Stadium.

Inspired by the innovative light show used in event presentation at the 2019 World Athletics Championships in Doha and World Athletics’ new brand identity, the international federation’s official supplier, Mondo, has redesigned all of the equipment that is used in the elite competition arena – from lane markers and hurdles to landing mats and implement trolleys.

The equipment will have its first workout at the Continental Tour Gold meeting at Tokyo’s Olympic Stadium on Sunday, an event that will also serve as an official test for the forthcoming Olympic Games.

The new range will incorporate the lines and colours of the federation’s new logo for World Athletics Series events, and will completely revamp the look of a stadium or arena for both indoor and outdoor international competition.

For the first time, both the track and the equipment will be lit up, creating additional movement during the races. The new equipment features integrated LED technology, with devices on individual pieces of equipment that light up and adapt to developments in a race.

The lights have been designed to enhance the spectacle for fans, and also to focus their attention on different parts of the track and field when key moments and special performances are taking place. World Athletics said they will help the audience to navigate through the complexity of athletics competition when several events are happening simultaneously in a venue, by drawing attention and giving information. 

The technology is able to produce a range of coloured lights to provide different information, for example, gold, silver and bronze to indicate the placings of athletes, or red and green for successful and failed attempts in the field. The uprights used in the pole vault will have vertical LED stripes that can display information on the validity of the jumps or announce new records. 

Lane markers for track events will show more than numbers. They will be able to display images, animation or videos during the event presentation, and can also indicate disqualifications, all operated from a touch screen computer.

Ignacio Mercado, director of Mondo Iberica’s Sports Equipment Division, said: “Athletics is undergoing a revolution, both in design and in the integration of technology. This is a demanding sport that always requires the highest quality, which is why we at Mondo are so proud to have worked alongside World Athletics to redesign the equipment that will mark the future of athletics.”

The new World Athletics line of sports equipment will be provided and showcased at the World Athletics Indoor and Outdoor Championships and made available for the other World Athletics Series events.

The new equipment will be used for the postponed 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games at the Tokyo Olympic Stadium. In March 2022, the new technology will be in place at the 18th World Indoor Championships in Belgrade, Serbia, and in July 2022 at the 18th World Championships in Eugene, Oregon, USA.
 
World Athletics competition director, Jakob Larsen, added: “World Athletics is excited to showcase the new Mondo range of sports equipment which was created with the objective of innovating and incorporating the new brand of World Athletics. The collaboration between World Athletics competition, brand, event presentation and Mondo brought this amazing range of innovative design to life which we are pleased to share with the athletics world.” 

Anniversary Games set for new home

Meanwhile, the 2021 Anniversary Games, part of the Diamond League series, will not take place at its traditional home, London Stadium. UKA and the Diamond League last month hit back at London Legacy Development Corporation’s (LLDC) announcement that it would seek to find a new home for this summer’s Anniversary Games, stating that London Stadium must respect the terms of the hosting contract.

This year’s edition of the Anniversary Games is scheduled to take place on July 13. However, LLDC, owner and operator of London Stadium, has argued the cost of transforming the venue from football to athletics mode, and back again, cannot be justified for just one event.

Ordinarily, the summer series of events in the close season for Premier League football club West Ham United would include a number of concerts. However, COVID-19 has eliminated music events for the summer of 2021 leaving the £3m (€3.45m/$4.17m) adaptation cost solely for the Anniversary Games.

LLDC would normally be counting on the revenue generated by concerts to offset this cost, while it was also expecting to take a hit through the midweek calendar slot for this year’s Anniversary Games and the expected 20,000 crowd for the event.

UKA and LLDC have today (Friday) announced a formal agreement has been reached for the Anniversary Games to be moved away from London Stadium in 2021. The Evening Standard newspaper said a £1m settlement has been reached, with Gateshead International Stadium expected to become the new host.

Joanna Coates, chief executive of UK Athletics, said: “Our priority has been to stage the event at the London Stadium. Unfortunately, that has proven impossible.

“As a result, we have agreed to a settlement that allows us to mitigate losses and invest significant resource into the sport to help our athletes succeed. We will now be putting on a world class event at another UK stadium and will be announcing further details in the near future.”

A spokesperson for LLDC added: “This event is an important part of London Stadium’s summer schedule and will remain so in future years. However, because of the repercussions of the COVID pandemic on other events at the stadium, in particular the usual concert programme, it was important to reach an agreement with UK Athletics to remove the need to reconfigure the Stadium for one event.

“We are grateful that UK Athletics have agreed to a revised proposal that covers the costs of relocation and disruption to their plans.”

Image: World Athletics