The revised qualifications principles for Tokyo 2020

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 03: Great Britain celebrate after they win the match to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games during the Olympic Qualifier match between Great Britain Women and Chile Women at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre on November 03, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 03: Great Britain celebrate after they win the match to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games during the Olympic Qualifier match between Great Britain Women and Chile Women at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre on November 03, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)

The “Here We Go” Task Force has started its work, tackling the questions raised by the postponement of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, and the IOC Qualification Task Force already has approved a series of amendments. 

The revision addresses the impact of the covid-19 pandemic, which led to rescheduling of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. The qualification system consists of rules, procedures and criteria for participation to the Olympic Games, in line with the Olympic charter, and are approved by the IOC Executive Board.

What are the key points of the revised Tokyo 2020 qualification system? 

First, the qualification period is extended. The deadline now is 29 June 2021. But international federations can define their own deadlines before this date. And the final sport entries deadline is 5 July 2021.

Second, the athletes and National Olympic Committees (NOCs) who already earned an Olympic qualification quota place will retain it. In all, 57% of the total athlete quota places have already been allocated. And there are about 5,000 athlete quota places still to be assigned.

The task force said “the priority remains to reflect, where possible, the allocation method/pathway of the original qualification systems for each sport.”

For some sports, however, the quota allocation was originally based on ranking. In such cases, the IFs retain full discretion to define the new ranking deadline and pathway.

LINZ, AUSTRIA - SEPTEMBER 01: Robbie Manson of New Zealand reacts by making a praying action after he qualifies his boat for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic games in the B final during Day Eight of the 2019 World Rowing Championships on September 01, 2019 in Linz-Ottensheim, Austria. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)
LINZ, AUSTRIA - SEPTEMBER 01: Robbie Manson of New Zealand reacts by making a praying action after he qualifies his boat for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic games in the B final during Day Eight of the 2019 World Rowing Championships on September 01, 2019 in Linz-Ottensheim, Austria. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)
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“The IOC recognises the sensitivity of such decisions. A sport-specific balance needs to be found between protecting those athletes who were close to qualifying based on the previous 2020 deadlines and also ensuring the participation of the best athletes at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 by allowing the top performers of the 2021 season to qualify”, noted the task force. 

Finally, the task force also addressed the eligibility criteria saying “it is possible for IFs to extend the age eligibility criteria, if such exist, and allow athletes who are eligible in 2020 to remain eligible to compete at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 from 23 July to 8 August 2021”. As an example, the men’s football tournament is based on aged criteria (U-23), which could be modified for Tokyo 2020. 

Similarly, the IFs could re-assess the eligibility of those athletes who are not eligible in July 2020 but will meet the lower age limit in 2021.