World Athletics announces new multi-million dollar championship from 2026

World Athletics announces new multi-million dollar championship from 2026

World Athletics on Monday announced the launch of the World Athletics Ultimate Championship, a groundbreaking new global championship event set to transform the athletics calendar and define which athlete is the best of the best – pitting world champions, Olympic champions, the Wanda Diamond League winners and the year’s best-performing athletes against each other, to crown the ultimate champion.

Highlighting this revolutionary competition is a record-setting prize pot of US$10 million, the largest ever offered in the history of athletics – with gold medallists set to receive US$150,000. This innovative event, debuting 11-13 September 2026 and set to be held every two years, will first be hosted in Hungary’s capital city of Budapest, promising a spectacular conclusion to the summer athletics season.

Designed as the ultimate season finale to captivate millions of television viewers worldwide, the global championship event will feature a thrilling and fast-moving new format for athletics. Taking place over three evening sessions, each under three hours in duration, the Ultimate Championship will showcase the best of athletics, including sprints, middle and long-distance races, relays, jumps, and throws, ensuring a spectacle that both existing and new fans will not want to miss. Athletes will represent their national teams to ensure that individual success is underpinned by national pride.

Setting a new benchmark for financial rewards in the sport, the World Athletics Ultimate Championship will feature a total prize pot of US$10 million, underscoring World Athletics' commitment to pay its athletes more, provide them with additional earning opportunities, and increase their recognition. All athletes competing at the championship will be financially rewarded and the ultimate champions will receive US$150,000 each. Athletes will also benefit from greater promotional rights, allowing them to commercially activate and enhance their profiles.

Chosen following a competitive process – which saw interest from several major global cities – and after hosting arguably the most successful World Athletics Championships in history last year, Budapest will welcome nearly 400 of the world's top athletes for the inaugural World Athletics Ultimate Championship between 11-13 September 2026.

“With only the best of the best on the show and cutting straight to semi-finals and finals, we will create immediate pressure to perform for athletes aiming to claim the title of the ultimate champion,” said World Athletics President Seb Coe. “The World Athletics Ultimate Championship will be high on action and excitement for fans, setting a new standard for track and field events. Featuring athletics’ biggest stars, it will be a must-watch global sports event which means athletics  will host a major global championship every single year, ensuring for the first time that athletics will enjoy a moment of maximum audience reach on an annual basis.”