The World Athletics Championships (or World Championships in Athletics until 2019) are a biennial athletics competition organised by World Athletics (formerly IAAF, International Association of Athletics Federations). Along with the Olympic Games, they are the world’s highest level championships for senior international outdoor track and field athletics competition, including marathon running and race walking. World Athletics holds separate World Championships for certain other outdoor events, such as cross-country running and the half-marathon, as well as indoor and age-group championships.
The World Championships were established in 1976 in response to the International Olympic Committee’s decision to remove the men’s 50-kilometer walk from the Olympic programme for the 1976 Montreal Olympics, despite its continuous presence at the games since 1932. Instead, a month and a half after the Olympics, the IAAF chose to host its own world championship event. It was the IAAF’s first World Championships held apart from the Olympic Games (traditionally the main championship for the sport).
A second limited event was held in 1980, and the inaugural championships in 1983, which included all of the events, are considered the competition’s official start. Olympic champions were also considered reigning World champions until 1980.
History of the World Athletics Championships
The concept of an Athletics World Championships existed long before the competition’s first event in 1983. The IAAF decided in 1913 that the Olympic Games would serve as the World Athletics Championships. This was deemed adequate for over 50 years, until, in the late 1960s, many IAAF members expressed a desire to host their own World Championships. Athletics World Championships separate from the Olympic Games were approved at the 1976 IAAF Council Meeting in Puerto Rico.