Zurich's Letzigrund Stadium (© Matt Quine)
With Weltklasse Zurich unable to go ahead as planned this year, innovation-driven meeting organisers have instead launched the 'Inspiration Games', a border-spanning Wanda Diamond League exhibition event to be held on 9 July.
The 'Weltklasse Zurich Inspiration Games' will see 30 track and field superstars compete across eight disciplines in an innovative team event spanning seven stadiums and three continents. The aim is not only to provide live sport for athletics fans across the world, but also to inspire the next generation.
As host of the Wanda Diamond League Final, Weltklasse had expected to welcome the world's biggest athletics stars to Zurich this year. But with this year's edition cancelled due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis, Swiss fans will now have to wait until 2021 and 2022 for the three-day series finale to return to the city.
Instead, Zurich plans to take itself to the world on 9 July, by hosting an innovative new live team event, with dozens of athletes competing simultaneously in different venues across the globe.
"We want to offer fans what they have long been yearning for: a world class live athletics event," said meeting director Christoph Joho.
The innovative format will see the world's best athletes line up in a series of three-way clashes between Europe, the USA and the rest of the world. In the 150m, for example, Bahamian Olympic 400m champion and 200m Diamond League champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo will take on US star and six-time Olympic champion Allyson Felix and Switzerland's world bronze medallist Mujinga Kambundi. While Kambundji will burst out of the blocks in Zurich, Felix will compete in Walnut, California, and Miller-Uibo in Miramar, Florida.
The format, developed in co-peration with World Athletics, the Wanda Diamond League, Swiss Timing and broadcaster SRG SSR, will also showcase traditional athletics from a completely new angle thanks to a unique, specially designed broadcast to be produced by SRG SSR and beamed out across the world.
"To simultaneously broadcast three different venues in each discipline will certainly be a technical challenge," said Karin Nussbaumer, SRG SSR's national coordinator. "Time delays will have to be corrected so that everything is synchronised for the viewer. It is highly demanding to organise such a broadcast."
Yet overcoming challenges is precisely what the Inspiration Games are about, says meeting director Andreas Hediger. The event will be the second part of Weltklasse's 'Inspiration Series', which began with the nationwide 'OneMillionRun' event involving 80,000 Swiss residents in May.
"Both projects are about giving a positive signal and overcoming hurdles," said Hediger. "National and international stars such as Kambundji, Miller-Uibo and Felix are important role models in this respect. They can show the youngsters just how far you can go if you never stop improving, dreaming and believing in yourself."
Organisers for World Athletics