Yokohama has been awarded the 2019 IAAF World Relays ©Getty Images

Yokohama has been awarded the 2019 International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Relays, replacing Nassau as hosts.

After The Bahamas' Government confirmed in July that it would no longer be able to offer the financial guarantee that underpinned the event in Nassau, several member federations contacted the IAAF directly to express their interest in hosting and the world governing body’s Council has voted to award it to the Japanese city. 

Competition is due to take place at the Yokohama International Stadium on May 11 and 12.

The first three editions of the IAAF World Relays, in 2014, 2015 and 2017, were held in Nassau.

IAAF President Sebastian Coe thanked The Bahamas for its key role in establishing the World Relays as a successful competition and welcomed Yokohama as only the second city to host the event.

"I am delighted that Yokohama has stepped in to host our youngest World Athletics Series event and I am confident that they will do an outstanding job despite the short preparation period," he said.

"Several of our member federations expressed interest in hosting the popular IAAF World Relays next year and I thank them for their efforts, which confirm the appeal of what is a very entertaining team-based competition with a unique spirit.

"Japanese crowds are renowned for their enthusiastic support and I am sure they will give our athletes a tremendous reception next year.

"This will also be a great opportunity for our athletes to experience the culture and conditions of the host nation little more than a year before the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

"Yokohama has long been regarded as the gateway to Japan, as the first port opened to foreign trade in 1859, and now it will once again welcome the world."

The first three editions of the IAAF World Relays, in 2014, 2015 and 2017, were held in The Bahamas' capital Nassau ©Getty Images
The first three editions of the IAAF World Relays, in 2014, 2015 and 2017, were held in The Bahamas' capital Nassau ©Getty Images

Hiroshi Yokokawa, the President of the Japan Association of Athletics Federations, said he was excited to invite the athletes of the world to compete in Yokohama.

"The Bahamas have left important footprints on the history of athletics by organising the IAAF World Relays for the past three editions, and it is an honour and privilege for Japan to receive the baton from them," he added. 

"The hosting of the World Relays will provide us a platform and opportunity to build up towards the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

"The advancement of athletics in Japan is closely integrated with our relay culture, and there is strong interest and excitement to welcome the top runners from around the world.

"With seven months to go, we promise to showcase the best competition and to mark a new page in the history of the World Relays."

Yokohama Mayor Fumiko Hayashi said her city was ready to welcome athletics fans and expressed her confidence that its citizens would embrace the event.

"It is a great honour for Yokohama to be the first city in Japan to host the IAAF World Relays," she said.

"As host city, we will be working together with our citizens to stoke up excitement for the event and provide the best possible environment for top athletes.

"I hope many of you come and enjoy the fastest racing in the world as it unfolds in Yokohama."

The IAAF World Relays has become an important early season event, blending the established 4x100 and 4x400 metres relays with other distances, medley or mixed relays.

Its success arguably contributed to the International Olympic Committee adding the mixed 4x400m relays to the Olympic programme for Tokyo 2020.

Jamaica were hopeful of stepping in to stage the 2019 World Relays, but their effort came to an end last month with the Government unable to provide written financial backing to the IAAF.