COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the International Triathlon Union (ITU) today officially announced that Triathlon Mixed Team Relays will be added to the event program for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. The program was added among nine other new events for Tokyo 2020 following a meeting of the IOC Executive Board in Lausanne, Switzerland.
In the Mixed Team Relay race format, four athletes – two men and two women – compete on each team. Each athlete completes a super-sprint-distance course covering a 300-meter swim, 9-kilometer bike and 2-kilometer run before tagging off to the next teammate, with the fastest combined time winning the race. The compact race footprint is ideal for spectator viewing, and the all-out racing lends itself to dramatic finishes.
“The addition of Mixed Team Relays to the Olympic Games is a monumental step in the continued growth of triathlon worldwide,” said Barry Siff, USA Triathlon President and ITU Executive Board Member. “Having another medal event will bring an added dimension and increased excitement to our sport, as it is extremely viewer-friendly. Hopefully, it will also find its way into the grassroots of our sport with race directors identifying creative ways to include more relays in their events. Very importantly, USA Triathlon wants to thank the ITU and especially its President, Marisol Casado, for providing the leadership necessary to achieve this outcome.”
The U.S. is the defending world champion in the Mixed Team Relays, with the team of Gwen Jorgensen, Ben Kanute, Kirsten Kasper and Joe Maloy taking the title at the 2016 ITU Mixed Team Relay World Championships in Hamburg, Germany.
“Winning the Mixed Team Relay world championship title as a part of Team USA last year was an amazing experience, and I look forward to the opportunity to race on the Olympic stage with my U.S. teammates in Tokyo,” said 2016 Olympic gold medalist Gwen Jorgensen, who was one of the first elite triathletes to back the ITU’s proposal to include the discipline on the 2020 Olympic program. “It will be so exciting to have multiple medal events in triathlon at the 2020 Olympic Games.”
The 2016 World Championships enjoyed widespread media coverage and fan engagement, with 19 TV outlets airing the event, more than 7 million watching on TV worldwide and 250,000 spectators lining the streets in Hamburg.
“The speed, athleticism and thrilling atmosphere of the Mixed Team Relays will showcase our sport in a new way at the Tokyo 2020 Games,” said Andy Schmitz, High Performance General Manager at USA Triathlon. “The race format provides an opportunity for National Federations to focus on strategic team composition, while maximizing the athleticism of our Olympians on the world stage.”
The Mixed Team Relays at the 2020 Olympic Games will be held at Tokyo’s Odaiba Marine Park, the same venue as the men’s and women’s Olympic triathlon races.
USA Triathlon incorporates Mixed Relay events into its Collegiate Club National Championships and Youth & Junior National Championships each year. In addition, the U.S. hosted the CAMTRI Mixed Relay American Championships in Sarasota, Florida, in 2016.
The U.S. also embraced the Mixed Team Relay format with the creation of the Major League Triathlon professional racing series in 2016. The MLT season features eight mixed relay teams representing major cities and states throughout the nation. Races are held in major cities across the U.S. in pop-up “stadiums” to maximize the spectator experience. For more information about Major League Triathlon, visit majorleaguetri.com.
“Having raced the Mixed Team Relay at Major League Triathlon events across the U.S. and internationally at the 2016 Mixed Team Relay World Championships, I can attest that it is one of the most fun race formats in the sport,” said 2016 U.S. Olympian and defending Mixed Relay World Champion Ben Kanute. “With multiple lead changes, all-out racing and unpredictable outcomes, the event will be a hit for racers and spectators alike.”
The IOC announced the inclusion of nine other new events for Tokyo 2020 on Tuesday, with an emphasis on improving gender equality and appealing to youth and urban markets. For the full listing of new events, visit Olympic.org.