Even as it’s being slammed for choosing to hold the 2019 World Athletics Championships in scorching-hot Doha, Qatar, the IAAF has announced that next year’s World Championships will take place on the surface of the sun.
“We are extremely pleased to announce that the 2020 World Athletics Championships will be held on the sun—center of our solar system, giver of heat, and source of all life,” Neil McCauley, an IAAF spokesman, told reporters today at a news conference in a chilly hotel ballroom in Doha. “While the logistics may present a challenge, we have every confidence that athletes, spectators, and media alike will rise to the occasion.”
“We look forward to a World Athletics Championships that will be, for the first time in human history, literally out of this world.”
The decision drew swift criticism from those in Doha and, later, from runners and journalists worldwide, as the news spread via social media. Many pointed to the current World Championships, which some have called a “catastrophe” and a “disaster,” largely because of the brutal heat and humidity.
At the women’s marathon, which started at midnight Friday, runners competed in “a virtual steam bath” despite an unprecedented midnight start. As the women’s winner crossed the finish line, at 2:34 a.m., it was 88 degrees with 77 percent humidity. In the end, just 40 of the 68 starters finished the race; 30 visited the medical center.
“I thought Doha was bad, but this is just crazy,” said Vincent Hanna, a U.S. marathoner in Doha for the men’s marathon, to be held this weekend. “I mean, the sun is 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit. I could see a lot of athletes boycotting this.”
Another U.S. runner, Charlene Shiherlis, echoed Hanna’s sentiments.
“I appreciate the need to mix things up and generate excitement,” said Shiherlis. “But the sun? Wouldn’t Mars be a more sensible option? Or France?”
Asked about these concerns, McCauley admitted that 10,000 degrees is “warmer than most of these athletes are used to,” but added that “it’s a dry heat” and that organizers would offer extra fluid stations along the marathon course as well as eight misting stations.
“If our sport is to grow,” said McCauley, “we need to think big. Big and massive. Like the sun!”
Representatives for the sun did not return repeated phone calls.