Countries that hosted both indoor and outdoor championships: France, Canada, Finland, and South Korea (first in Asia)
Daegu Metropolitan City has been selected as the host for the World Masters Athletics Championships 2026 (WMAC 2026). As an international athletics city that spearheads South Korea in the post-pandemic era with sports by successfully holding the first international marathon in Korea with guest athletes from abroad, the city succeeded in attracting the WMAC 2026 and will host a festival full of freedom and vitality for athletes from around the world.
Daegu Succeeds in Attracting the WMAC 2026
By attracting the WMAC outdoor championships, which is more than double the size of the indoor championships, which Daegu hosted in 2017, South Korea has become the first Asian country to host both the indoor and outdoor championships held under the auspices of World Masters Athletics (WMA).
During the General Assembly held at Tampere, Finland, at 9 AM local time on July 4 (Mon), the 166 member countries of the WMA cast all 246 votes and unanimously confirmed Daegu as the host country for the 2026 event.
Daegu planned for the bid in December 2017 and began working on attracting the event since the WMAC 2018 in Malaga, Spain. During the two years and six months of the COVID pandemic, Daegu has continued to strengthen ties with the WMA Council. The city has also held the world's first non-face-to-face Daegu International Marathon with elite and master courses in 2021, where participants were allowed to run the target distance from anywhere they want—in Korea or abroad. The city’s such efforts were able to draw support from the WMA member countries.
To bid for the WMAC 2026, a joint delegation (8 officials and 11 athletes), organized by the Daegu Sports Council and the Daegu Association of Athletics Federation and led by Daegu’s International Relations Ambassador Chin Ki-hoon, was dispatched to the WMA 2022 in Tampere with the aim of bidding for the WMAC 2026.
During the championships, the delegation had a booth to promote and emphasize Daegu's attractive tourism infrastructure, focusing on sports infrastructure, such as the Daegu Stadium and the Daegu Athletics Promotion Center, as well as Hajung-do Island and the waterfront by Geumho River, and numerous hotels and hospitality infrastructure in the city.
In particular, at the WMA General Assembly, which was held on Monday, July 4, to select the host city, the delegation from Daegu gave a presentation that reflected Daegu Mayor Hong Joon-pyo’s passion to bring glory and dignity to Daegu as a city of sports based on the experience of successfully hosting world-class mega-sports competitions in Daegu. The WMA Council and 166 member countries showed unwavering trust in Daegu's ability, which had been proven by successfully hosting the 2017 indoor championships.
Daegu has built a close networking channel with the WMA to host the event. In particular, Daegu employed a great strategy and included Mexico’s Cesar Mereno Bravo, who is an honorary Daegu citizen and former head of WA, in the delegation, which played a big role in Germany to take a step back from the competition and bid for the following championships.
The WMAC, which was first held in Toronto, Canada, in August 1975, are the biennial game with indoor and outdoor championships held in alternating years. It is the only world athletics competition where former Olympic medalists and master athletes 35 years of age or older pay to participate (flight tickets, accommodation, and participation fee). There is no prize money (only medals are given to the top three winners) and part of the athletes’ participation fees covers the cost of hosting the championships. As part of the leisure culture that encourages people to enjoy sports in everyday life, the WMAC are a sports festival in which masters of various levels and ages participate. European countries are particularly enthusiastic to participate in and bid for the championships.
The WMAC 2026 will be held in Daegu Stadium and the Daegu Athletics Promotion Center. A total of 35 events (18 track events, 11 field events, and 6 road events) will be held over 14 days from August to September 2026, and 11,000 people from 90 countries are expected to participate.
In addition, the 2026 championships has been confirmed as a government-approved project that has passed the international event screening committees of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the Ministry of Strategy and Finance. As a result, the preparation for the overall championships will gain momentum, receiving central government funding for the operation of the facilities and forming an organizing committee.
“I am delighted to be able to share with the citizens the great news about our city hosting the World Masters Athletics Championships 2026,” remarked Daegu Mayor Hong Joon-pyo. “Based on Daegu’s status as an international sports city, we will take the lead in making Daegu an even more global city and make necessary preparations to work with the people of the city so that the championships could be a great help in revitalizing Daegu’s economy.