Illustration: Shyam G Menon

According to information available on the website of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), the IAAF Council recently approved a new Olympic qualification system for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

This will give athletes more opportunities to achieve the required entry standards.

The qualification window has been extended by two months for most events. “ This will start on 1 May 2019 (instead of 1 July 2019), to include more international competitions such as the IAAF Diamond League, and end on 29 June 2020,’’ the statement (part of a press release dated March 11, 2019) said.

The qualification period for the marathon and 50km race walk will close at the end of May 2020 (instead of 29 June), to give the qualified athletes more time to prepare specifically for the Games.

After extensive consultation with key stakeholders, the Council has decided to introduce a dual qualification system, combining both the entry standards and the new World Ranking System, to determine which athletes are eligible for Olympic selection in 2020.

Under this new qualification process, an athlete can qualify for the 2020 Olympics in one of two ways:

  • Achieve the entry standard within the respective qualification period
  • Qualify by virtue of his / her IAAF World Ranking position in the selected event at the end of the respective qualification period.

The process is designed to achieve about 50 percent of the target numbers for each event through Entry Standards and the remaining 50 percent, through the IAAF World Ranking System, the statement said.

Race walking

Another statement available on the IAAF website informed that the IAAF Council agreed in principle with the Race Walking Committee’s proposal to change the competition program for race walking in order to protect and promote the discipline at major international championships and its appeal and attractiveness to new audiences.

According to the statement, the Council specifically agreed with the importance of:

  • Maintaining a 4-medal discipline and gender equity with two men’s and two women’s events at all major international competition
  • Continuing to prioritize investment in and development of the Race Walking Electronic Control System (i.e, the electronic chip insole technology)
  • Testing and validating the technology in competition during 2020
  • Roll out of two of the following events: 10km, 20km, 30km or 35km from 2022.

The above decisions and others were made at a recent meeting of the IAAF Council in Doha, venue for the upcoming edition of the World Athletics Championships.

(The author, Shyam G Menon, is a freelance journalist based in Mumbai.)

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