© Copyright – 2023 – Athletics Illustrated

On the pages from the Book of Job resides the aphorism, “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.” Similarly, the president of World Athletics Lord Sebastion Coe, gave Croatia the opportunity to host the 2024 World Cross Country Championships and also took it away.

Croatia was awarded the meet however, it became apparent that the organization was not up to speed. With apparent fancy footwork, Coe, gave the meet to neighbour, rival and former fellow Yugoslavian territory Serbia — ouch, that has got to smart.

According to the published article, Navigating Exclusion as Enemies of the State: The Case of Serbs in Croatia and Croats in Serbia, nationalism has grown in both countries and to various degrees, so has marginalization of the fellow minorities who continue to reside in each country, post-war.

“Ethnic Serbs who live in Croatia (known as Croatian Serbs), as well as ethnic Croats who reside in Serbia (known as Serbian Croats), comprise minority groups in two nationalistic states reconstituted only in the last few decades after the dissolution of Yugoslavia. Both communities experienced a demotion of political status following Yugoslavia’s collapse with their successor states – Croatia and Serbia – having reclassified them as ‘new’ national minorities (i.e. narodni) rather than the federally-equal constituent peoples they formerly were under the socialist state’s model.”

One wonders if perhaps the Lord should have considered a less bitter rival for the re-assigned World Cross Country Championships. But he works in mysterious ways, to be sure.

Serbia, an emerging host

According to the publication Inside the Games, the World Athletics Council has re-awarded the Championships after deciding that preparations at Medulin and Pula in Croatia to host the event on February 10 had “not advanced sufficiently.”

This will be the second World Athletics Series to be hosted by Belgrade in the space of two years following the 2022 World Athletics Indoor Championships.

World Athletics President Sebastian Coe commented: “Belgrade is establishing itself as a reliable host of world-class competitions.

Belgrade has staged numerous major track and field events over the years. These include the 1962 European Championships, the 2013 European Cross Country Championships, the 2017 European Indoor Championships and the 2017 Balkan Championships.

The 2024 World Cross Country Championships will be held in the Park of Friendship, next to the Danube River in the heart of Belgrade, which was also the site of the 2013 European Championships.

Additionally, the Council has approved the dates for the 2026 World Athletics U20 Championships in Eugene, Oregon, which will be held from August 4 to 9, and for the 2026 World Athletics Road Running Championships in Copenhagen, scheduled for September 19 to 20.

This year’s championships were hosted by Bathurst, Australia in February and the 2026 edition will take place in Tallahassee, Florida.

From World Athletics

World Athletics regrets to announce that the World Athletics Cross Country Championships 2024 will no longer be held in Medulin and Pula in Croatia.

World Athletics believes that preparations have not advanced sufficiently for Medulin and Pula to host the event on February 10 next year, as scheduled.

However, World Athletics is in advanced negotiations with an alternative host in Europe with a view to staging the event in March 2024.  

The new host will be announced before the end of September.

World Athletics looks forward to working with Croatia on future events.