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50km Race Walk Dropped from Paris 2024

IOC Cut 50km Race Walk from Paris Olympics 2024


50 km racewalk GettyImages 591966076
Rob Heffernan to the fore at Rio Olympics - Photo: Getty Images

In a body blow to Race Walking, the IOC (International Olympic Committee) has confirmed the removal of the 50 kilometres race walk from the Paris Olympics. The IOC said the decision to cut the men's 50km event was made with consideration to gender balanced competition - There is no Women's 50m equivalent at the Olympics.

The decision will be a major disappointment - to say the least - to Irish Olympian Brendan Boyce (Finn Valley AC), who specialises at the distance, along with up-and-coming Irish race walkers, such as David Kenny (Farranfore Maine Valley) and Callum Wilkinson (Togher). Following the tremendous success, in recent years, of Rob Heffernan, Olive Loughnane and Gillian O'Sullivan, and many others too, including Leevale AC's Alex Wright, there has been an upsurge in the uptake in race walking in Ireland.

Jessie Barr expressed disappointment at the decision, saying “We have such a strong history of it. The organisers seem to think it’s OK because the 20km (walk) is still there but it’s like taking the marathon out and keeping the 5,000m. They’re completely different events — one is a sprint, one is endurance — so taking away the 50km seems very unfair.

“Someone like Rob (Heffernan) wouldn’t be a world champion if there was no 50km,” she said. “Someone like Brendan Boyce doesn’t do the 20km walk, he only does the 50km, so he’s probably going to be lost to the sport. Rob has also set up a race-walking academy in Cork. Does this change their plans for the future?

“The IOC are saying they want to reduce the number of events and athletes competing in the Olympics, yet they’re adding in new sports and removing ones that have been there so long. “There’s probably other people out there delighted that their sport is being recognised now on the global stage but we’re always going to have a bias towards the walk in Ireland,”

Rob Heffernan claimed the world title in the 50km race walk, in Moscow, 2013, and was upgraded to Olympic Bronze from London 2012, where he had finished fourth, following the disqualification of Russian Kirdyapkin for doping. At last year’s World Championships, Brendan Boyce finished 6th in the 50km race walk.


No to 50km Race Walk ... but yes to Skateboarding, Sport Climbing and Surfing!

However Skateboarding, sport climbing, surfing and breaking were officially approved for the Paris 2024 programme. The IOC said that it had considered the race walk programme at the Games, which, for Tokyo 2020 will include men's and women's 20km events, and the men's 50km.

World Athletics (formerly IAAF) had proposed to include cross country on the Olympic programme for the first time since Paris last hosted the Games, in 1924, however the IOC rejected the proposal.

The IOC said "With a view to not increasing the overall size of the Olympic Games, the Executive Board determined to maintain the same number of athletics events on the Tokyo 2020 Olympic programme (48), while offering the opportunity to World Athletics to replace the men’s 50km race walk event with a new mixed-gender event"

"This replacement mixed-gender event could be either a race walk or a track event, as long as the event and competition format fit within the existing venue/courses."

World Athletics must confirm the event by May 31st 2021.

"We had really detailed discussions with World Athletics regarding cross country, we know it is a key part of their strategic plan". "It had to fit into an existing Olympic venue and looking at the necessary adaptations.

"Looking at the potential venues, the equestrian eventing or mountain bike venues, it was quite expensive and complex to convert one of those venues into an athletics cross country venue.

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Cork Athletics County Board is a constituent member of Athletics Ireland. Cork Athletics is the governing body, administering athletics, track and field (T&F), cross-country (XC) and running in county Cork. The Board comprises elected representatives of constituent athletic clubs and running clubs. Cork County Board AAI organises Championship races and competition, including road, track & field (T&F) and Cross-country (XC), at junior, juvenile, senior and masters levels, and selects representation for the county. In addition, training and education is provided for coaches and officials. The Board also regulates the Athletics Ireland race/event permit (licence) process for county Cork.
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