About the IAAF World Relays
The IAAF World Relays is an international relay race sporting event hosted by IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations).
First held in 2014, the event aims to promote track and field and share the appeal of relay races with the world. It belongs to the top classification of events hosted by the IAAF, the World Athletics Series.
The first edition was held in 2014. After the second edition in 2015, it was decided to hold every odd year like the World Championships in Athletics. For the first three editions, the last taking place in 2017, the competition unfolded in Nassau, the capital of The Bahamas.
The event specialises in relay races. This means that in addition to men’s and women’s 4x100m and 4x400m relays which are part of the standard program for the Olympics and other international championships, various other exciting relay races are held. As well as the two categories mentioned above, the first edition included the men’s and women’s 4x200m, 4x800m, and 4x1500m relays. For the second edition, the 4x1500m relay was replaced by a distance medley relay consisting of a 1200-metre leg, a 400-metre leg, an 800-metre leg, and a 1600-metre leg.
The upcoming edition will also include the mixed 4x400m relay which is also set to be introduced at the IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019. The mixed relay replaced the distance medley relay in 2017’s third edition, becoming the first event of its kind held at any major international competition.
One defining feature of this event is its status as a determiner of a nation’s overall strength in relay races. Points are awarded based on final ranking in each category, and a baton-shaped trophy known as the Golden Baton is awarded to the team who accrues the most points in the men’s and women’s categories. The top athletes in each of the eight categories are also awarded a prize, and those who set new world records are given a special bonus.
Another motivating factor for athletes is the fact that the top teams are awarded places at the next Olympics and IAAF World Championships. In the past, the top eight teams in the men’s and women’s 4x100m and 4x400m relay teams have automatically qualified in this way. This year, the top 10 national teams in the men’s and women’s 4x100m and 4x400m relays and the top 12 teams in the mixed 4x400m relay will qualify for the World Championships in Doha. The stakes are higher than ever, and the national teams will no doubt be on top of their game.
The host of this year’s fourth edition IAAF World Relays to be held on May 11-12 is no other than Japan, which is also gearing up to host the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. The International Stadium Yokohama, located 30 kilometers south of Tokyo on the outskirts of Yokohama, has been chosen as the venue. Right next to Japan’s capital Tokyo, Yokohama is the capital of Kanagawa prefecture. With a population of 3,700,000, it is known as one of Japan’s international port cities and is also a popular tourist destination.
IAAF will also be introducing a mixed 2x2x400m relay and a mixed shuttle hurdles relay to this year’s event, in addition to the seven categories of the men’s and women’s 4x100m, 4x200m and 4x400m relays and the mixed 4x400m relay featured in previous editions. The goal is to share the fun and excitement of track and field with the world in a way that people have never seen before.
In addition to the above, this event is garnering international attention as a prelude to the Doha World Championships and the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. The fourth edition in Yokohama is expected to break the entry number record set by the second edition (of 669 entries from 43 countries).