World Athletics has announced it will introduce the term “short track” to replace the term “indoor” to describe events staged on a 200m track.
In a press release Tuesday, the World Athletics Council said it is supporting the concept of “short track” competition to allow more flexibility in the setting of 200m tracks, which may, in the future, be constructed outdoors or in temporary city locations, rather than in a traditional indoor arena. Performances set on outdoor or temporary 200m tracks could therefore be recognized as official results for the purpose of records and rankings.
Until now, athletics has been divided between “outdoor” competition, staged on a standard 400m oval track, and “indoor” competition, typically run on a 200m oval track. Because these events were conducted in a different environment, the performances were not regarded as comparable with outdoor marks.
World Athletics and the national federations have maintained separate lists of indoor and outdoor events and performances for statistical and records purposes. However, World Athletes said the advent of modern athletics and the development of hybrid competition venues—city squares, shopping malls, train stations—have made it difficult to maintain the separation between outdoor and indoor athletics. In some field events, the separation has been eliminated altogether for world-record purposes.
World Athletics President Sebastian Coe said this has prompted World Athletics to redefine the boundaries of outdoor and indoor athletics, so they report to the competition facility rather than to the environment. “This change is designed to remove an unintentional barrier to competition innovation, by offering organizers the chance to explore solutions and opportunities which the current rules may discourage,” said Coe.
“Under this new concept, the 200m short track will no longer be confined to the indoor environment, and a world of opportunities will open up for meeting organizers to official stage competition in whatever facilities they have available, either indoors or outdoors, using 200m or 400m tracks. This change will allow and actively encourage the possibility for 200m tracks to move to an outdoor environment and will provide a more affordable option for cities, especially where space is in short supply, while stimulating the growth of the sport through investment in new infrastructure.”
According to World Athletics, indoor championships (whether at national, area or world level) would continue to exist but, in those regions / areas where there are no or very limited indoor facilities, short track championships could be held, which would be the equivalent of the indoor championships, and could be used as qualifying competitions for major indoor championships.
Events held in temporary facilities could also find a place in the official competition structure as well as in statistics and record books regardless of the environment in which they are conducted.
World Athletics said detailed rule changes required to initiate the change will be formally approved at its August meeting in Budapest.