Last week was, on one hand, the Olympic and Paralympic Week in which the motto “inclusion” toured French schools and reached more than 8,000 students and through which more than 200 Olympic and Paralympic athletes were accompanied during their sports activities. However, on the other hand, it was also consecrated as a week of confirmations less than 475 days before the Olympic cauldron will be turned on again.
In addition to the publication of the Olympic and Paralympic events program, one of the most important recent officializations occurred in athletic walk, a discipline that until a few days ago included only individual 20-kilometer events, which will mark the start of the Olympic athletics program in Paris on Thursday, August 1, 2024.
World Athletics and the International Olympic Committee announced that the mixed relay event will experience its Olympic debut on the morning of August 7 next year, six days after the individual competitions. The peculiarity of its format lies in the fact that it will have a marathon distance (42.195 km), which was chosen for two reasons: the popularity it enjoys and its strong symbolic weight within Olympism. In effect, the test will be called Marathon Race Walk.
In turn, 25 couples composed of a male and a female athlete, who will complete two stages of just over 10 kilometers each, will compete, as in the two individual events, in the areas adjacent to the Eiffel Tower located in the center of Paris. The route of the nascent race will take around three hours.
“We are excited to have another mixed relay in the Olympic program (...), designed to be innovative, dynamic and unpredictable and that will guarantee gender equality,” World Athletics CEO Jon Ridgeon said optimistically in a statement that contrasts sharply with the position of many of the athletes.
By chance, Diego García Carrera, bronze medalist in the last European Championship in Munich in 20 kilometers, shot on Twitter: “Making such a decision just over a year before the Olympic Games is a real slop. Half of mine are outside of Paris. This is not how things can be done. The march deserves respect.”
Along the same lines, the Mexican Horacio Nava, runner-up in 50 kilometers in the 2010 World Cup, described the inclusion of this specialty as “crazy” and a “cheap copy” of the marathon. In addition, Nava anticipated that short stretches are likely to promote athletes to increase speed and incur disqualifications.
The ranking system has not yet been published. At the moment, the 2024 World March Championship and the world ranking would be the two qualifying routes.