With the first event of the 2017 IAAF World Indoor Tour almost upon us and the stars of Rio 2016 preparing to return to the track, we take a look at the format and venues for this year’s indoor circuit.

The IAAF World Indoor Tour returns for 2017 following its successful launch last season. An extra leg has been added to this year’s mini-series, which brings together five high calibre meetings in Boston, Dusseldorf, Karlsruhe, Torun and Birmingham to create the world’s finest circuit of indoor competition.

Athletes’ performances count towards a ranking, with points awarded to the top four finishers in each event, with standardised cash prizes for the top six (eight in distance events). At the end of the Tour, there will be an overall winner for each ranking. They will scoop a cool $20,000 and get a wild card for the Birmingham World Indoor Championships in March 2018.

Here are some of the things you can expect on the stops of the 2017 IAAF World Indoor Tour.

New Balance Indoor Grand Prix, Saturday 28th January

World Indoor Tour 2017 Boston ()

Reggie Lewis Center, Boston, USA

For its first stop, the 2017 Tour heads to America’s northeast coast, the area of the world that saw indoor track and field boom in popularity at the turn of the last century. Over two decades, Boston’s Reggie Lewis Center has been the backdrop for a host of iconic performers and performances, particularly in distance running.

This tradition will continue as Paul Chelimo and Hagos Gebrhiwet, Olympic 5000m silver and bronze medallists respectively, will race Olympic 800m bronze medallist Clayton Murphy over 3000m. The women’s 1500m will see reigning world indoor champion Sifan Hassan and silver medallist Dawit Seyaum up against outdoor American record holder Shannon Rowbury and Olympic 5000m silver medallist Hellen Obiri.

US athletes Jenny Simpson and Emma Coburn, both medallists at Rio 2016, will line up as part of a distance medley relay team (1200m x 400m x 800m x 1600m) with 2013 world 800m medallist Brenda Martinez and teenage Olympian Sydney McLaughlin. The indoor world best of 10:42.57 was set at the same meeting in 2015.

World indoor pole vault champion Jenn Suhr, who has already cleared 5.01m this year, will battle with Olympic champ Ekaterini Stefanidi. Adding to the big names is Matthew Centrowitz; the world indoor champion made history at Rio 2016 by becoming the first American in over a century to win Olympic 1500m gold.

World Tour scoring events

Men: 1500m, long jump, high jump

Women: 60m, 800m, 3000m, pole vault, triple jump

PSD Bank Meeting, Wednesday 1st February

World Indoor Tour 2017 Dusseldorf ()

Sportstadt, Düsseldorf, GER

After joining the exclusive five metre club in her last competition of 2016, Sandi Morris will be hopeful of big things as she returns to Europe for her first competitive vault of the 2017 season in Dusseldorf, in northwest Germany. The Olympic silver medallist will square up against German record holder Silke Spiegelburg, whose 2016 was derailed by injury.

There’ll be a hot showdown in the women’s sprints as well. World indoor champion Barbara Pierre, of the USA, will take on world U20 record holder Ewa Swoboda, of Poland, who possesses a dynamite start. In the 60m hurdles, Nia Ali, another world indoor champion, will race outdoor world silver and bronze medallists Cindy Roleder and Alina Talay.

The men’s 800m will also be hot. The field includes classy Polish pair Adam Kszczot and Marcin Lewandowski, world indoor bronze medallist Erik Sowinski and world bronze medallist Amel Tuka. Also in the field is Kenyan Nicholas Kipkoech, whose final outting of 2016 saw him defeated by an electric car in Brussels.

World Tour scoring events

Men: 60m hurdles, 400m, 1500m

Women: 60m, 800m, pole vault, shot put, triple jump

Indoor Meeting, Saturday 4th February

World Indoor Tour 2017 Karlsruhe ()

Messehalle, Karlsruhe, GER

The Tour stays on German soil for date three, heading south to Karlsruhe.

One of the most memorable nights in the city’s long association with indoor athletics came when Susanna Kallur set a world record 7.68 in the 60m hurdles there in 2008. The Swede is set to feature again in 2017, and joining her will be the outdoor world record holder Kendra Harrison in her only international indoor appearance of the season. Also lining up in the non-ranking race are Olympic 2012 champion Sally Pearson and outdoor European champ Cindy Roleder, of Germany.

Christina Schwanitz, reigning outdoor world champion in the shot put, ensures that German throws fans will get their fix. Also in the infield, Olympic long jump silver medallist Luvo Manyonga is set to make his indoor debut.

In the night’s big distance event, Olympic silver medallist Hellen Obiri and British 1500m record holder Laura Muir will race over 3000m. Germany’s world U20 3000m bronze medallist Konstanze Klosterhalfen will also feature following an impressive 2016 season.

World Tour scoring events

Men: 60m hurdles, 1500m, long jump, high jump

Women: 60m, 800m, 3000m, pole vault, shot put

Copernicus Cup, Friday 10th February

World Indoor Tour 2017 Torun ()

Arena Toruń, Torun, POL

Renaissance astronomer, Torun native and all round top bloke Nicolaus Copernicus lends his name to the meeting that forms stop four and a new addition to this year’s indoor tour.

The meeting will be graced by three-time world indoor champion Genzebe Dibaba, who will attempt to break her own indoor 1500m world record. Among the athletes out to upset such a charge are fellow Ethiopian and 2014 world indoor silver medallist Axumawit Embaye, 2014 European 5000m champion Meraf Bahta and diminutive Pole Sofia Ennaoui, as well as Dibaba’s younger sister Anna.

A juicy contest is promised in the men’s 60m hurdles. Orlando Ortega and Dimitri Bascou, Olympic silver and bronze medallists respectively, will line up against European indoor champion Pascal Martinot-Lagarde, who finished fourth in Rio. US indoor champ Jarret Eaton will join them on the start line.

Polish faves Adam Kszczot, winner of the 2016 indoor tour, and Marcin Lewandowski, reigning European indoor champion, will race in a non-ranking race. Further home representation will be provided in the women’s 800m, as Olympic fifth place finisher Joanna Jozwik (who won at the Copernicus Cup last year) will race European 1500m champion Angelika Cichocka in a field that also includes outdoor world champion Maryna Arzamasava.

World Tour scoring events

Men: 60m hurdles, 400m, 1500m, high jump

Women: 60m, 800m, pole vault, triple jump

Muller Indoor Grand Prix, Saturday 18th February

World Indoor Tour 2017 Birmingham ()

Barclaycard Arena, Birmingham, GBR

The final stop of the 2017 tour will be in the same arena that will host next year’s World Indoor Championships. Birmingham, the same midlands city that hosts an annual Diamond League meeting and which staged the world indoors in 2003, has a rich athletics history.

In 2015, the last time athletics was held in the Barclaycard Arena, double-double Olympic champion Mo Farah set a 2 mile world best 8:03.40. Farah is scheduled to compete again, and will be joined on the line-up by fellow Brit, badass 1500m runner Laura Muir. She will have a go at the British 1000m record before an anticipated 1500m/3000m double attempt at the European indoor champs in Belgrade.

Briton Robbie Grabarz and US champ Erik Kynard, both medallists at the Portland World Indoors and London 2012, are confirmed for the men’s high jump. The women’s long jump will feature a trio of top Brits: world indoor bronze medallist Lorraine Ugen, European silver medallist Jazmin Sawyers and European indoor pentathlon champion Katarina Johnson-Thompson.

On the track, 100m/200m Olympic champion Elaine Thompson will make her first appearance of 2017, lining up in the 60m against European 100m champ Dina Asher-Smith.

World Tour scoring events

Men: 60m hurdles, 400m, 1500m, long jump, high jump

Women: 60m, 800m, 3000m, pole vault, shot put

 This article was updated to include notable additions to startlists.