Budapest to host ‘game-changing’ athletics event

National Athletics Centre in Budapest, Hungary

Featured image credit: Hungarian Athletics Association

Budapest has today (Monday) been announced as the host city for the first World Athletics Ultimate Championship, a new event that will feature a record $10m (£7.8m/€9.2m) prize fund.

The event will take place at Budapest’s National Athletics Centre, which opened last year ahead of the city’s staging of the World Athletics Championships.

The inaugural World Athletics Ultimate Championship has been pencilled in for September 11-13, 2026. World Athletics plans on staging the event every two years.

The sport’s global governing body said that the event will feature world champions, Olympic champions, Diamond League winners and the year’s best performing athletes competing against each other with the aim of crowning the “ultimate champion”.

The $10m prize fund marks a record for a track and field event, with gold medallists to receive $150,000 each. Budapest, which has been selected following a competitive process which saw interest from several “major global cities”, will welcome nearly 400 athletes for the inaugural event.

The Championship will serve as a finale for the athletics season and will feature three evening sessions, each under three hours in duration. Athletes will be representing their national teams. World Athletics said that athletes will benefit from greater promotional rights during the event, allowing them to commercially activate and enhance their personal profiles.

World Athletics chief executive, Jon Ridgeon, said: “By embracing innovation and breaking away from traditional models, we are looking to reach a broader audience, particularly younger fans, and elevate the entire sport.

“There will be a strong focus on television audiences, with an aim to reach the biggest global audience possible. We also want to enhance the viewing experience, both at home and in the stadium, so we are looking at what new competition innovations can be introduced, all of which will be thoroughly tested in advance. We truly believe this will be a game changer for our entire sport.”

Adam Schmidt, the State Secretary of Sports in Hungary, added: “After the success of the World Athletics Championships Budapest 23, Hungary started discussions with World Athletics about how we could remain active participants in the international field, adding value to the universal family of athletics.

“Hosting the inaugural edition of the Ultimate Championship is an excellent occasion to keep the pace and together with president (Sebastian) Coe we have even more plans to deliver. These partnerships have a very positive impact on our national sport curriculum and Hungary is always happy to welcome the world in our magnificent capital city, Budapest.”

2026 promises to be a busy year for Budapest, with the city’s Puskás Aréna also hosting the UEFA Champions League final, as decided last month.