Track and field introducing 'short track' for indoor races

Track and field is introducing new rules and a "short track" format for races run on 200-meter tracks, which have traditionally been in enclosed arenas and referred to as "indoor" events.

Short track world records can now be set at indoor or outdoor events under a proposal that's expected to come into effect in November, governing body World Athletics said Tuesday.

Short track records would be recognized in distances from 200 meters up to 5,000 meters and in some relay and mixed relay events. The world body is proposing race walking events over 3,000 and 5,000 meters and the pentathlon and heptathlon also have short track world records.

The proposal has the unanimous backing of World Athletics' decision-making council and is set to be approved at a meeting in Budapest, Hungary, in August on the sidelines of the outdoor world championships, the world body said. The new rules would come into effect on Nov. 1.

World Athletics said it hoped the move would give organizers more versatility and not confine them to indoor arenas if they wanted to use shorter tracks. Track and field has historically been divided into outdoor events on a regular 400-meter track and indoor events typically on the shorter track, with separate records.

"However, with the advent of modern athletics and the development of hybrid competition venues -- city squares, shopping malls, train stations -- it is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain the separation between outdoor and indoor athletics," World Athletics said in a statement.

The move was "designed to remove an unintentional barrier to competition innovation," World Athletics president Sebastian Coe said.

"Under this new concept, the 200-meter short track will no longer be confined to the indoor environment, and a world of opportunities will open up for meeting organizers to stage official competition in whatever facilities they have available, either indoors or outdoors, using 200-meter or 400-meter tracks," Coe said.

The indoor world championships will still exist as will other indoor meets, but official short track meets held in any location could be used as qualifying events for major indoor championships, World Athletics said.