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World Athletics bars Nike prototypes of Vaporfly shoes ahead of Tokyo Olympics

World Athletics bars Nike prototypes of Vaporfly shoes ahead of Tokyo Olympics

Sohinee Basu

Published: 5 Feb 2020 7:39 AM GMT

Who would have guessed that technological advancements can act as impediments one day? The World Athletics (WA) committee decided amidst much controversial outbursts to ban a shoe for the first time in athletics history ahead of the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The much-regarded shoe in question is the Nike Vaporfly prototype which was used by athlete Eliud Kipchoge to run the very first sub-two hours marathon run, a supernatural feat, in itself.

Bothered by the Vaporfly's edge over the other shoes in the market and fearing the absence of uniformity in competition caused by technology, the World Athletics governing body has decided to specifically ban the shoe used by Kipchoge for the race. However, several other Vaporfly shoes which meet the revised standards set by the WA can be worn by the athletes at the Tokyo Olympics.

Kipchoge's Vaporfly prototype shoe was designed to accentuate the performance of the athlete and boost the speed. However, Nike's Vaporfly range – including the Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT% and the Zoom Vaporfly 4% – meets the stipulations of World Athletics' amended Technical Rules, which prohibit shoes with soles that are thicker than 40 millimetres and the inclusion of more than one carbon-fibre plate, or similar item, in the sole.

The news comes amid criticism of the fairness of allowing athletes to compete while wearing the Vaporfly range, which have thick, foam soles and carbon-fibre plates to improve speed. While Vaporfly remains within the amends, the prototype Air Fly trainer that Nike-sponsored Kenyan runner Eliud Kipchoge wore to run a sub-two-hour marathon in October 2019 will be banned under the regulations. The sneaker has a much chunkier sole than the Vaporfly and reportedly includes three carbon-fibre plates.

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