ANSI - American National Standards Institute
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Olympic Track and Field Equipment and Facilities Held to Highest Standards

New York, Mar 03, 2004

The opening ceremony of the 2004 Summer Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, is less than six months away, and officials are working at breakneck speed to complete all preparations and construction. While each individual sporting event at the Summer Games is governed by technical rules of eligibility, officiating, and scoring, the facilities and equipment used by the world’s greatest athletes adhere to international standards as well.

As the governing body for athletics, the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) produces a large number of publications, including the IAAF Constitution and Competition Rules, which contains the rules that govern the sport of Track and Field Athletics worldwide. IAAF publications also help to ensure that the athletics equipment used in international competitions is of the requisite standard, manufactured in accordance with IAAF technical requirements, and, most importantly, guarantees the safety of the athletes. Co-operation with the IOC and Olympic Games Organizing Committees for support of the successful staging of athletics events at the Olympic Games has also been a major feature of the IAAF’s activity.

The IAAF Certification System was launched in 1999 to make certain that facilities, equipment and implements used in athletics competitions conform to IAAF’s specifications, thereby guaranteeing the validity and accuracy of performances, protecting the safety of athletes, preventing the unauthorized use of the IAAF’s name and safeguarding the integrity of the sport.

Also in 1999, the IAAF introduced a certification procedure for all 400m synthetic tracks for which two levels of certificates are issued: IAAF Class 2 Certified Track Facility and IAAF Class 1 Certified Track Facility. All international competitions held under IAAF Rules should be held on tracks that have at least a current Class 2 Certificate. At the highest level of competition, a Class 1 Certificate is required for the Olympic Games, World Championships, World Cup and other major games.

To be certified, a track must be constructed according to IAAF Performance Specifications for Synthetic Surfaced Athletics Tracks (Outdoor), which sets out the minimum performance requirements for synthetic surfaced outdoor athletics tracks. The Performance Specifications on which the tests and certification are based resulted from long and detailed work involving, among others, test laboratories, track manufacturers, biomechanical researchers and the IAAF. This work commenced in 1985, the initial specifications were agreed in 1988 and were monitored closely between then and the introduction of the certification system in 1999.

According to the IAAF, the synthetic surface of a track must meet these specific performance requirements, if international athletics are to take place on the facility with comfort and safety for the athletes. The specifications govern such elements as:

  • Imperfections: freedom from bubbles, fissures, delamination, uncured areas etc.
  • Flatness: no significant localized bumps, depressions or step-like irregularities
  • Thickness: the depth of the synthetic surfacing layer throughout the facility is recorded
  • Force Reduction: an appropriate reduction in impact force caused by the surface
  • Vertical Deformation: an appropriate degree of deformation of the surface under impact
  • Friction: no potential slip between shoe and the wet surface
  • Tensile Strength: adequate strength of the surfacing material in tension
  • Color: uniformity and consistency of the color

Further information can be obtained from the IAAF Track and Field Facilities Manual or by visiting the IAAF website.

 Homeland Defense and Security Standardization Collaborative