The International Triathlon Union (ITU) is pleased to announce that the Triathlon Mixed Relays has been included on the programme for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced on Friday 9 June the new events added for the next Olympics, which will be Triathlon Mixed Relays, Basketball 3×3, Archery Mixed Team event, 4×400 mixed relays in athletics, BMX freestyle Park, Madison in cycling, team events in fencing, mixed team event in judo, mixed doubles in table tennis and 4x100m medley mixed relay in swimming.
In August 2020, the Odaiba Marine Park in Tokyo will host the triathlon event during the next Olympics, giving triathletes the possibility to earn another Olympic medal. ITU notes that the Mixed Relays will ‘represent a catalyst on the promotion of women athletes within all NOCs around the world, as it completely fulfils the Agenda 2020 requirements.’
Marisol Casado, President of ITU and IOC Member, said “We are absolutely delighted with this decision. We’ve been pushing for the Mixed Relays to be included in the programme for quite a long time, as it is an event that gives the sport something very important: a sense of team building. But most important, is an event that demonstrates that women and men can compete together but both are equally important to the success of the team.”
IOC President, Thomas Bach, said “The fascinating new events that we approved today, together with the five new sports that were added to the Tokyo 2020 programme last year, represent a step-change in the Olympic programme. I am delighted that the Olympic Games in Tokyo 2020 will be more youthful, more urban and will include more women.”
ITU notes that the Mixed Relays is one of the most thrilling events in triathlon, – with teams of two men and two women completing each a short-course triathlon (300m swim, 8km bike, 2km run) before tagging off to their teammate to take over. With its rapid and unpredictable format, ‘athletes love it and spectators enjoy it both on-site and on television, making it one of the most spectacular formats of the circuit.’
With no extra athletes needed to be added to the Olympic Programme, and lots of extra excitement ensured, the Mixed Relays are also backed by triathlon fans and event organizers around the world. “It will be amazing if we could have two opportunities to get a medal at the Olympic Games,” said American Gwen Jorgensen. An Olympic winner herself in Rio 2016, she was one of the first triathletes backing ITU’s proposal of including the Mixed Relays on the Olympic Programme for Tokyo 2020. Hundreds of triathletes around the world, National Federations and organizers of events also joined the #TriMixedRelays campaign.
“It was great to have the current Olympic champion Alistair Brownlee; Olympic silver medallist Jonathan Brownlee; ITU World Champion Non Stanford and current ITU World Champion Flora Duffy announcing this exciting news, as part of the athletes commitment with the gender equality policies we always support and encourage at ITU,” said Casado.
“We are proud that this message was given by our athletes to all the triathlon fans around the world, and also to the Olympic family.”
A release from ITU further adds that ‘The energetic, exciting, uncompromising and action-packed format also appeals tremendously to youth, as the Mixed Relay format showcases triathlon to a new generation.’
The excitement and drama of the Mixed Relay also makes it a marketable, spectator-friendly discipline that is dramatic viewing for television spectators and digital media. Indeed, the Mixed Relay has massive engagement across media, with over 7 million TV spectators worldwide, 19 television outlets airing the ITU World Championships, and 250,000 spectators lining the streets each year to enjoy the Mixed Relays Worlds.
The Mixed Relays are already included in the programme of the Youth Olympic Games, the Asian Games and the Commonwealth Games, and have been recently added on the programme for the PanAmerican Games to be held in Lima 2018. The next World Championship will be held in Hamburg (Germany) on 16 July.
Every year, over 60 countries organise Mixed Relay events, each with an average of 25 teams participating. Seen as a thrilling and engaging format in which National Federations are challenged to develop triathlon for women and men equally across all levels of participation, the format also provides triathletes with the opportunity to win more than one medal at the Olympics.
ITU adds, ‘We are delighted to welcome another event, the Mixed Relays, to the Olympic races, and we are sure that with its unpredictable drama and the display of team pride, the Triathlon Mixed Relay format is a perfect fit for the Olympics.’