Tokyo Olympics: National committees to decide on qualified athletes

FILE PHOTO: Simone Biles of USA competes in the women's vault final at the 2016 Rio Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 14, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

Athletes already qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics will need to be picked again by their respective National Olympic Committees (NOCs) to compete at the postponed Games in 2021.

The IOC and Japanese government had succumbed to intense pressure from athletes and sports bodies around the world last week by agreeing to postpone the Games by a year to 2021.

This was because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Some 57 per cent of the expected 11,000 athletes had already qualified for the Tokyo Games this year before qualification tournaments were scrapped as the virus spread in recent months.

Those athletes, the IOC said, would keep their qualification, but they have to be re-selected for next year by their NOCs again as they represented a country and not themselves.

All of the qualifications that have been achieved by NOCs and individual athletes remain in place.

“Any athlete needs to be individually selected because they represent their NOC. In all sports, the NOC retains the right to select the athletes,” IOC Sports director, Kit McConnell, said during a conference call.

McConnell said the IOC was also in talks with world football governing body FIFA.

He said this was to decide on the tournament next year, as only players aged under 23 are allowed to compete apart from a limited number of over-age players per team.

In many cases, several footballers will be above the age limit next year in spite of having qualified this year.

In several sports, there are specific age regulations, minimum or maximum, for health safety or to provide an age group as in men’s football with under-23.”

We are in discussions with FIFA… We have to finalise that in the coming weeks,” he said.