Margit Jungmann of Germany, the president of World Masters Athletics, used to do the heptathlon. That’s helpful in her current gig — juggling two dozen jobs. The most important? Protecting lives.
Like doctors, nurses and other heroes, Margit and her fellow council members will be making decisions in the coming months on the fate of our health — and sport. Will she permit cities to move forward on world and regional championships amid The Beast, COVID-19?
It’s now accepted science that the earlier we adopt strict social-distancing and other steps, the better we have a chance of escaping the worst of the pandemic. Today in Washington, reporters were astounded by predictions that 100,000 to 240,000 people in the United States would die under the BEST of circumstances. (And we’re far from achieving those standards.)
By comparison, World War I cost 116,000 American lives and World War II just over 400,000. But the current enemy could take us out in months, not years.
So it may seem trivial in the extreme to talk about who will host the 2023 and 2024 world masters indoor and outdoor meets. But we also need hope. And the prospect of a reunion of the tribes (the High Jump Tribe, the Hammer Tribe, the Hurdles Tribe) gives many of us reason to stay disciplined and train. Keeping healthy also helps fight The Beast.
Before the Toronto 2020 world meet was spiked, the General Assembly was going to be pitched on a 2023 world indoor championships in Spokane, Washington, and a 2024 world outdoor meet in Daegu, South Korea.
(The 2021 world indoor meet in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, could be iffy, especially with Toronto possibly delaying to that year as well. And the 2022 outdoor worlds in Gothenburg, Sweden, could also be bumped by the domino effect. But that’s just my speculation.)
Spokane and Daegu were the only bidders for 2023 and 2024, I’m told. But even those cities (with great masters traditions) still needed to jump through WMA inspection hoops.
A few days ago, I wrote Margit the Prez. She graciously replied, asking how I was doing and then saying:
I am fine and of course I hope to stay healthy. No, I am not under quarantine, this is only for people who have the virus or were in direct contact with people having the virus. But we have a strict law to avoid social contacts.
I still go to work (under special restrictions) as I am a director in my region and member of the task force. We are working hard to avoid the quick spread of the virus. Up to now we could slow down, but we need to continue this strategy.
Yes, Daegu is the only bidder for 2024. But we had to cancel the inspection due to corona situation, so papers can’t be shared. And as Toronto is canceled there is no decision in 2020.
We are reworking our masters championships calendar due to the cancellation of all mayor 2020 events. Please be patient, it takes us some time, but I am sure once the situation in the world will be better, masters athletics will come back with energy.
Last October, ahead of the USATF annual convention, former national masters chair George Mathews wrote a report that said: “We are looking forward hopefully being able to have the use of the new Spokane Sportplex indoor facility, which should be completed in 2021…. (hoping to host the) 2023 WMA Indoor Track & Field Championships — submitting bid Oct. 31. Presenting at General Assembly in Toronto at WMA Outdoors.”
Daegu hosted an impressive 2017 indoor worlds. Spokane had the 2008 and 2018 outdoor masters nationals. The unfinished Sportsplex arena with a banked 200-meter track looks sharp in this video. (See cameos by Rachel Guest, Dr. Richard Watson and the late Orville Rogers.)
Though the 2020 bid is kaput, George wrote me that he’s sure Spokane still wants 2023 indoor worlds.
“They will have a state of the art indoor facility that they want to utilize,” he said via email. “They have 2022 U.S. Masters indoors. I don’t think anything has changed from their point of view in this short run. I believe only a change of WMA plans could possibly change Spokane’s plans.”
Unfortunately, The Beast has a say in this.
Our job? Kill The Beast by observing all health directives and staying positive about our surviving this era. You know what to do. Stay sane, and we’ll make it. (You, too, Margit.)
Contribute to support independent track and field journalism:
Thanks, Ken. Hope is a good thing to have during this time.
I’m sure Spokane would do a great, friendly job, but visa hassles make a meet anywhere in the US an unattractive choice for many around the world.
The Facility in Spokane is on-time and will be completed Fall 2021!