International Gymnastics Federation shares update on Olympic qualification

By Patricia Duffy | March 18, 2020
International Gymnastics Federation shares message on Olympic qualification
Courtesy FIG

The International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) is finally speaking out on the Olympic qualification process after the initial system has been all but destroyed by coronavirus-related meet cancellations.

FIG President Morinari Watanabe released the following statement on Wednesday, March 18, regarding the situation.

Dear all,

Challenges are part of a sporting career. The unexpected health crisis caused by COVID-19 has affected the daily lives of a large number of our athletes, as it has everyone else. We cannot simply ignore it.

It took a few days to delete almost all FIG events from the calendar in the upcoming weeks. In close collaboration with local organisers and host countries’ national federations, we have tried and are still trying to reschedule World Cups and World Championships when it seems possible to do so. Unfortunately, we sometimes have no other choice but to cancel competitions.

Those postponements and cancellations have an impact, to varying degrees, on the Olympic qualification system in Artistic, Rhythmic and Trampoline Gymnastics. We are aware that this raises several legitimate questions. However, there are no basic answers.

We have to be fair and consistent in the application of our rules. Therefore, the FIG Executive Committee will carefully review the criteria which might be not fulfilled in the Olympic qualification system, and agree on how to allocate the remaining places. This process must also involve the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which has the final say.

Yesterday, in a conference call that I took part in, the IOC said that it will work with all International Federations to make any necessary and practical adaptations to their respective qualification systems for Tokyo 2020. I strongly recommend that you read their communique.

I want to mention that the IOC remains fully committed to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. As IOC President Thomas Bach says, with more than four months to go before the Games there is no need for any drastic decisions at this stage.

The current period is challenging. Athletes are used to taking on new challenges. At the FIG, we will continue our efforts to help athletes achieve their goals in the fairest way.

FIG President Morinari Watanabe

Watanabe acknowledges that COVID-19 has affected the daily lives of a large number of gymnastics athletes, and “we cannot simply ignore it.”

The president also admits this has been a trying time of constant cancellations and conferring with meet organizers and national federations, but there are “no basic answers” to fixing the situation.

The FIG is currently working on a plan to allocate the remaining places. The international federation will have to get approval from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on any modifications.

Any increases in athlete quotas for sports will be considered on a case-by-case basis under exceptional circumstances and will need the support of the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee.

In a statement released by the IOC on Tuesday, the Executive Board (EB) reiterated its commitment to hosting the Olympic Games this summer, saying “any speculation at this moment would be counter-productive.”

“I want to hold the Olympics and Paralympics perfectly, as proof that the human race will conquer the new coronavirus, and I gained support for that from the G-7 leaders,” said Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo.

The IOC is encouraging athletes to continue to prepare for the Games as best they can while the committee is assisting the international federations for each participating sport in modifying their qualification systems.

To date, 57 percent of athletes are already qualified for the Games.

After modifications are agreed upon, the IOC will follow up in the coming days.

Do you think the Olympics will happen as planned this summer?