(Reuters) - A women's 50km race walk will feature at the London 2017 world athletics championships for the first time in order to ensure gender equality, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) said on Sunday.
Previously, women only competed in a 20km race walk in the competition and the Olympic Games, while men competed over the same distance and in a 50km event. The women's 50km race walk was only recognized by the IAAF as an official event from January of this year.
In a statement on the IAAF website (www.iaaf.org), president Sebastian Coe said that the decision had come about due to pressure from a small group of athletes.
"(The) IAAF Council’s decision to create a new 50km race walk competition for women with separate results and prize money at the world championships in London follows the 2016 IAAF Race Walking Team Championships in Rome, where one female athlete from the USA joined her four male team mates," said Coe.
"There has been equal prize money for men and women at the IAAF world championships since the introduction of financial rewards in the early 1990s and this decision brings gender equality in terms of competition opportunity too."
Athletes will have to achieve an entry standard time of 4 hours, 30 minutes by July 25 in order to compete in the event, which will take place at the same time as the men's race on Aug. 13.
(Reporting by Christian Radnedge; Editing by Toby Davis)