As part of the work of the “Here We Go” Task Force currently addressing the list of questions raised by the postponement of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Qualification Task Force has approved a series of amendments to the Tokyo 2020 Qualification System Principles.
The revision has been made to address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent finalisation of the new dates of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, replacing the previous version approved by the IOC Executive Board in July 2017.
The Qualification Principles are the reference for all the qualification systems, which are the regulations established by International Federations (IFs) that vary between each sport (and sports discipline, where applicable).
The qualification systems consist of rules, procedures and criteria for participation in the competitions of the Olympic Games, in line with the Olympic Charter, and are approved by the IOC Executive Board.
The key points of the Revised Tokyo 2020 Qualification System Principles are:
Extended qualification period and new deadlines
- The new qualification period deadline is 29 June 2021, and IFs can define their own qualification period deadlines should these be prior to this date.
- The revised final sport entries deadline has now been set at 5 July 2021.
- The revision of the qualification systems will be finalised as quickly as possible, to give certainty to the athletes and National Olympic Committees (NOCs).
- Athletes and NOCs that have already obtained an Olympic qualification quota place will retain this despite the postponement of the Games. In all, 57 per cent of the total athlete quota places have already been allocated so far, with approximately 5,000 athlete quota places still to be assigned.
- In some cases, the qualification quota places are obtained by the NOC and in other cases they are obtained directly by a specific athlete. In all cases, and as per the Olympic Charter, the respective NOC retains the right to select the athletes to represent it at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
- The priority remains to reflect, where possible, the allocation method/pathway of the original qualification systems for each sport. This principle encourages IFs to follow a like-for-like approach by replacing those lost opportunities for allocating quotas with the same number of events.
- Regarding the scenario where the quota allocation was originally based on ranking, the IFs retain full discretion to define the new ranking deadline and pathway. 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.
- The IFs are encouraged to engage with their respective member federations and their own athletes’ commissions in order to reach a consensus on a fair and transparent decision.
- In line with the principle that athletes who have qualified for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 remain qualified, 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. The only exception will be if the IF establishes that the one-year relaxation of the upper age limit represents a safety and/or medical risk for athletes.
- Regarding the eligibility criteria for the lower age limit, if there is one, the IOC recognises the full authority of IFs to assess the eligibility of those athletes who are not eligible in July 2020 but will meet the lower age limit in 2021.
Athlete health is the guiding principle in the scheduling of any remaining Olympic qualification events. With the postponement of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 until 2021, the IOC has urged that any such events be confirmed only once the COVID-19 impacts can be assessed, allowing fair access and appropriate preparation for all competing athletes and teams. Through this period, the IOC is also maximising information and support for athletes through the athlete-focused Athlete 365 platform.