The Italian city of Rieti will be the host of the 2026 European Athletics U18 Championships, following a decision made at the 163rd European Athletics Council meeting which concluded in Madrid on Sunday (14).
Rieti emphasised its willingness and enthusiasm to stage the championships after having been the original hosts of the 2020 event in this age group, which unfortunately had to be cancelled due to the COVID pandemic.
“I am very pleased that the Italian federation were able to come back to us with an excellent proposal to stage our U18 championships in Rieti in 2026. Last year was very challenging for athletics around the world and it was with great regret that those championships which were scheduled to take place in Rieti had to be cancelled but we will now be able to utilise a lot of the hard work and effort the Local Organising Committee put in during their preparations for that event to great effect,” said European Athletics President Dobromir Karamarinov.
President of the Rieti 2026 Local Organising Committee Giuliano Casciani commented: “Rieti would like to say a big thank you to European Athletics. I am gratified for European Athletics’ confidence in our city and in the Italian athletics. We will get back to work immediately, taking advantage of what has already been done for Rieti 2020.
“It will be a great Rieti 2026 and we will make sure to organise a series of supporting events that will bring even more prestige to the European Athletics U18 Championships. The city of Rieti and our Raul Guidobaldi Stadium can't wait to start again,” he added.
The President of the Italian athletics federation (FIDAL) Stefano Mei said: “I am very pleased that Rieti has been awarded with the organisation of the 2026 European Athletics U18 Championships. FIDAL will totally support a city that has huge experience, and a knowledge and passion for athletics, as we all want to deliver the best possible edition of the championships.”
The next European Athletics U18 Championships will take place in Jerusalem, Israel in 2022 with the venue of the 2024 edition to be decided at the next European Athletics Council meeting in May 2022.
Another key decision made at the Council meeting was to harmonise the distances contested at the SPAR European Cross Country Championships between the genders from 2023.
The Council accepted a proposal from the European Athletics Event and Competition Commission, who supported the request from the Swedish Athletics federation and endorsed by other Member Federations, to establish equal distances for men and women.
Allowing for flexibility in terms of course design, the SPAR European Cross Country Championships races from 2023 will be contested over the following distances:
- Under 20 women and men: 4-6km
- Under 23 women and men 6-8km
- Senior women and men: 8-10km
- Senior mixed relay: 4x1 lap
Following the lead by World Athletics, European Athletics has also added the 35km race walk to its list of ratified records, both for senior and U23 athletes.
With World Athletics also adding the 50km distance to its list of ratified road running world records, European Athletics will also add this distance to its records. For both events target performance for the inaugural records were introduced.
Ireland – hosts of the 2021 SPAR European Cross Country Championships on 12 December – became the sixth Member Federation to complete the Focus Federation Programme with their presentation to the Council on Sunday.
The Focus Federation Programme was launched in April 2017 and is open to all federations who do not have any representation on the European Athletics Council.
The main aim of this initiative is to further strengthen links and communication between Member Federations and European Athletics.