World Athletics announces new global event

World Athletics President Seb Coe believes the newly-mooted, rich ‘World Athletics Ultimate Championship’ will inject innovation into track and field besides providing yet another opportunity for athletes to generate more income from the sport.
World Athletics yesterday announced the launch of the World Athletics Ultimate Championship, describing it as “a groundbreaking new global championship event set to transform the athletics calendar and define which athlete is the best of the best.”

The championship – that has a prize purse of $10 million (Sh1.3 billion) – will bring together world champions, Olympic champions, the Wanda Diamond League winners and the year’s best performing athletes against each other, to crown the ultimate champion.

The prize package is the largest ever offered in the history of track and field athletics. According to World Athletics, gold medallists will receive $150,000 (Sh19.6 million) in the championship whose first edition will be held from September 11 to 13, 2026, in Budapest, Hungary.

“Designed as the ultimate season finale with an aim to captivate millions of television viewers worldwide, the global championship event will feature a thrilling and fast-moving new format for athletics,” World Athletics said yesterday.

“Taking place over three evening sessions, each under three hours in duration, the Ultimate Championship will showcase the best of athletics, including sprints, middle and long-distance races, relays, jumps, and throws, ensuring a spectacle that both existing and new fans will not want to miss. “

Athletes will represent their national teams to ensure that individual success is underpinned by national pride,” World Athletics added.

Riding on the back of hosting one of the most successful World Athletics Championships editions in history last year, Budapest won the bid to welcome nearly 400 of the world’s top athletes for the inaugural championship in 2026.

“With only the best of the best on show and cutting straight to semi finals and finals, we will create an immediate pressure to perform for athletes aiming to claim the title of the ultimate champion,” said Coe in the statement issued yesterday. “The World Athletics Ultimate Championship will be high on action and excitement for fans, setting a new standard for track and field events.

“Featuring athletics’ biggest stars, it will be a must-watch global sports event and means track and field will host a major global championship in every single year, ensuring for the first time that athletics will enjoy a moment of maximum audience reach on an annual basis,” Coe added.

Adam Schmidt, the State Secretary of Sports in Hungary, said they explored ways of remaining relevant in athletics after successfully staging the Worlds last year, hence their decision to organize the inaugural World Athletics Ultimate Championship. “Hosting the inaugural edition of the Ultimate Championship is an excellent occasion to keep the pace and together with President Coe we have even more plans to deliver,” said Schmidt.

“These partnerships have a very positive impact on our national sport curriculum and Hungary is always happy to welcome the world in our magnificent capital city, Budapest.” World Athletics also said they will keep engaging various stakeholders with a view to making the sport more innovative and relevant to changing times.

“As World Athletics continues to prepare for this exciting new championship event, consultation with stakeholders – including athletes and their representitives, coaches, shoe companies, broadcast organisations, Member Federations and many others – will continue throughout the summer before a full event launch this coming Autumn,” the World Athletics statement said.

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