UK Athletics has confirmed that it will host the Müller Grand Prix Gateshead on 23rd May at the Gateshead International Stadium.
Rabat, which was due to host the opening Diamond League fixture on the same date, was no longer able to hold the event, and UK Athletics made the offer to the Diamond League who were looking for an alternate host. It means the fixture, which is an important marker in the road to Tokyo for many athletes internationally, is retained.
Bringing the event to the UK means that more British athletes will benefit from the fixture, such is the advantage of an additional home-based meet against top class opposition at a crucial point in the early season calendar.
UK Athletics CEO Joanna Coates said: “It was absolutely essential for us to be able to support our athletes’ preparations for Tokyo with the staging of a world class event next month, as well as assist the Diamond League.
“We know our athletes need more opportunities to compete at a high level this year and that Covid-19 has been a challenge for us all. Even with exemptions for elite sport many athletes do not wish to take the additional risk of contracting the virus so close to the Games.
“Compared to many nations the UK offers a lower risk option for athletes right now with the success of the UK vaccination programme and the progress on the government roadmap. With the Müller Grand Prix Gateshead, the Müller British Championships in Manchester and the Müller Anniversary Games in the London Stadium – as well as the number of high-class events being staged by independent organisers – this will support athletes to achieve their goals this summer, whether that is Tokyo or the start of their journey towards Birmingham 2022.
“Our thanks go to Gateshead Council who have stepped up very quickly to make this possible. The North East has such a great history of hosting world class athletics and it’s great to be returning there. We hope the event can be a cause for celebration with the region playing a pivotal role in preparing our athletes for success this summer and kick starting our major events season.”
Sheena Ramsey, Chief Executive, Gateshead Council said: “Gateshead is delighted to support the return of international athletics and to host the Müller Grand Prix – the inaugural event in the Diamond League series. Owing to the pandemic, we were unfortunately unable to host international athletics in 2020, however we hope that the launch of the series here in the North East, will kick start the much-needed regional recovery from COVID-19 and the devastating impact it has had upon all of our lives.
“Gateshead has a rich sporting heritage and the return of the Diamond League series is very much welcomed. We look forward to working with UK Athletics, regional partners and neighbouring local authorities to take full advantage of the return of international athletics to the region. We see this as the first step towards our shared ambition to host the 2026 European Championships and welcome the opportunity to support Team GB ahead of the Olympics.”
The event will be managed in line with government guidelines and competing athletes will be subject to tests prior to travel and upon arrival. A secure event bubble will be constructed around the venue, accommodation, and transport.
Subject to the next roadmap milestone being achieved on 17th May, it is hoped that there will be an opportunity for spectators to attend, details on the latest information will be released in due course. For further information visit britishathletics.org.uk