Nike’s Vaporfly running sneakers to be allowed in 2020 Olympics


The new Nike Zoom Vaporfly Elite Flyprint running shoe at the launch of the Nike Zoom Vaporfly Elite Flyprint in London in London at The Institute of Contemporary Arts on April 17, 2018 in London, England.

Patrik Lundin | Getty Images

Nike‘s controversial running shoe won’t be banned in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, after all.

The world governing body for track and field said Friday it will allow the existing version of Nike’s Vaporfly shoe to be worn in elite competition this summer, as it set new restrictions on footwear. However, it said it will continue to investigate the technology used in this shoe, and similar shoes by competitors, to make sure “the integrity of the sport” isn’t compromised.

“It is not our job to regulate the entire sports shoe market, but it is our duty to preserve the integrity of elite competition by ensuring that the shoes worn by elite athletes in competition do not offer any unfair assistance or advantage,” World Athletics President Sebastian Coe said in a statement.

“As we enter the Olympic year, we don’t believe we can rule out shoes that have been generally available for a considerable period of time, but we can draw a line by prohibiting the use of shoes that go further than what is currently on the market while we investigate further,” Coe added.

The new guidelines for elite competition say running shoes can’t have more than one carbon-fiber plate, and the height of the sole of the shoe can’t be more than 40 millimeters. Nike’s Vaporfly sneakers, which retail for $250 to the public and have been on sale since 2017, meet those criteria.

Since these sneakers were released by Nike, they have been a topic of debate, especially among runners. They promise to increase the speed of anyone who wears them by at least 4%. Kenyan runner Eliud Kipchoge wore the Alphafly version of Nike’s shoe when he became the first man to run a sub-two-hour marathon in Vienna in 2019.

Nike wasn’t immediately available to comment.

Other brands that have gone on to create running shoes with similar carbon-plated technology include Decker’s, Hoka and Saucony.

Nike shares, which have climbed almost 19% over the past 12 months, were down around 1% Friday afternoon. The company has a market value of about $151.5 billion.

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