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Yokohama to host IAAF World Relays

by Kaz Nagatsuka

Staff Writer

Yokohama will host the IAAF World Relays next year, the city and the Japan Association of Athletics Federations announced on Friday.

It will be the event’s first time away from its traditional home in Nassau, the Bahamas.

The competition will be held at International Stadium Yokohama on May 11 and 12.

The championships began in 2014 and became a biennial event in 2015.

The United States has amassed the highest number of medals with 24, followed by Jamaica, which has racked up 16, in the last three events.

Japan has earned one, when the men’s 4×100-meter relay team, which included national 100-meter record-holder Yoshihide Kiryu, nabbed a bronze medal behind the U.S. and Jamaica at the 2015 tourney.

The Bahamas withdrew from hosting another Relays for financial concerns in early July. Following that decision, Japan told the International Association of Athletics Federations that it was strongly interested in picking up the baton.

Once Japan’s proposal was approved, it was “a no-brainer” to select the Yokohama venue, JAAF president Hiroshi Yokokawa said.

“It will be an extremely rare chance for our Japanese athletes that are looking at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics,” Yokohama Mayor Fumiko Hayashi said. “We are very honored to host such a valuable event here in Yokohama.”

The 2019 World Relays will serve as trials for the world championships in Doha, which is scheduled for Sept. 27-Oct. 6. The top eight countries at the world championships will earn spots at the Tokyo Olympics.

“Next year will be a year away from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics,” Yokokawa said. “So many of the world’s top sprinters will come to the World Relays in Japan in high spirits with the games in mind.”