For more than 30 years, the United States has consistently produced the world’s best track and field teams. But the track and field world championships have never been held in the United States.

Then, Thursday morning, in an unexpected bolt from the blue, came word that the 2021 world championships would be held in Eugene, Oregon — a “strategic decision that enables us to take advantage of a unique opportunity that may never arise again,” the outgoing president of the IAAF, Lamine Diack, said in a statement issued from meetings in Beijing.

Eugene had last November bid for the 2019 world championships and lost narrowly to Doha, Qatar, 15-12.

Typically, the IAAF awards the worlds after such contested elections. For 2021, however, it opted to go straight to Eugene — its 27-member ruling council, guided by Diack, who throughout his 16 years as president has always wanted a U.S. championships, taking the decision Thursday in a special vote.

If anything can ignite a resurgence of track and field’s place in the sporting landscape in the United States, this marks the opportunity.

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