IOC has removed 4 x 400m from 2024 Olympics
World Athletics was shocked to learn that the International Olympic Committee has cut the popular relay event to make room for math-based competitions.
In a disappointing and unexpected change to the Paris 2024 Summer Games program, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has announced that the men’s and women’s 4 x 400m relay races will be cut to make room for “mathletics.”
The decision to add math-based events to the Games was made by the IOC and the Paris Organizing Committee (POC), and World Athletics (WA) was reportedly left out of discussions entirely.
At a press conference announcing the program change on Thursday, IOC president Thomas Bach said how thrilled he is to usher in “the next era” of the Olympic Games.
“I was never good at math as a kid,” Bach said. “So I’m proud to know that I’m playing a part in inspiring the next generation of Olympians to not just work hard at math, but to enjoy it, too.” An official from the POC also spoke, echoing Bach’s words.
“In France, we rank somewhere around 25th in the world when it comes to youth math scores,” the official said. “We want to change that, and we sincerely believe that hosting an Olympic mathletics event in our country will inspire our children.”
When asked whether he believes the elimination of the 4 x 400m will hurt athletics in France, the POC official said he thinks “France has enough runners already,” pointing out that “kids everywhere run all the time. At recess, in after-school sports. They’re always moving. We need more mathletes, not runners.”
While the IOC and POC are excited by this program change, some people are upset — most notably WA president Seb Coe. “I get that math is important, I do,” Coe said, speaking after the IOC press conference. “But why are they cutting the 4 x 400m relay? How can the IOC think that’s a good idea?”
Coe spoke heatedly, clearly annoyed, and he apologized after a seven-minute rant about long division (which he said he “could never wrap [his] head around”), explaining that he’s not against promoting math, but that he was simply caught off-guard. “Thomas [Bach] and the IOC didn’t contact me about this change. I learned about it on Twitter, just like everyone else.”
Coe continued, saying that he plans to fight the IOC on this change. It appears to be a battle he and WA are destined to lose, though, as shortly after Coe’s speech, Bach released the tentative lineup of mathletics events he hopes to see in 2024.
“We’re planning to hold multiplication races, abacus events and so much more,” Bach tweeted. “Athletics have been in the Games for over a century, but math has been around forever. It’s time we show mathletes the respect they deserve.”
Bach has also reportedly considered dropping equestrian events from the 2024 Games to allow room for a new blackjack competition, but nothing has been made official.
posted Friday April 2nd
by Ben Snider-McGrath