/ Olympic climbing dispute: It’s all gone legal!

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JLS 04 Nov 2019

I had tagged this on to the end of “NEWS: IFSC Lead World Cup Inzai 2019: Report” thread but perhaps it needs its own thread…

https://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/ukc/ifsc_lead_world_cup_inzai_2019_report-711832

I had been speculating on that thread that the Japanese Team might be misinterpreting the Olympic selection process and come up with an internal process that wasn’t compatible with the IFSC’s interpretation of the rules. Despite the Japanese plan being common knowledge, it would appear the IFSC have not given them the heads up that there might be a problem with their plan and it seems at this late stage the Japanese are now in dispute with the IFSC.

As well as the Japanese, this will effect some athletes/climbers from other countries that may or may not now get an invite to the Toulouse Olympic selection comp later in the month.

https://www.8a.nu/forum/news/jmsca-sues-ifsc-for-changing-olympic-selection 

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JLS 05 Nov 2019
In reply to JLS:

The rules...

https://www.ifsc-climbing.org/images/World_Competitions/FINAL_-_2019-02-01_-_Tokyo_2020_-_Qualification_System_-_Sport_Climbing_-_eng.pdf

The crucial bit...

HOST COUNTRY PLACES
The Host Country is guaranteed one (1) male and one (1) female athlete, on the condition that the athletes meet the eligibility requirements described under section C of this document and that the athletes participate in at least in one (1) of the events mentioned in section D “Qualification Pathway” of this document.

How I think it all went wrong...

1. IFSC Olympic selection rules written (but not explicitly enough) to mean the Japanese get guaranteed spots (M+F) IF their athletes miss the cut at the World Champs, then again at Toulouse, then again at the continental champs. Essentially it was a back-up if unexpectedly the Japanese didn't qualify anyone via the regular path.

2. Japanese federation read. "The Host Country is guaranteed one (1) male and one (1) female athlete" and interpret this to mean, ok this means if we qualify a guy(M+F) at the World Champs we can use this "guaranteed" spot(M+F) to select another later.

3. Japanese federation publish their plan.

4.  IFSC read Japanese plan. Think, "Can the Japanese do that!? Let's read our rules again... Oh dear, our rules aren't water tight we should have said explicitly, the host country spot IS ONLY in the event their guys don't make the cut.

5. IFSC decide to let Japan carry on with their plan.

6. Another country, disadvantaged by the IFSC going along with Japan's interpretation, complain.

7. IFSC go back on their decision to let Japan run with their plan.

8. Japan complain at, what they see as a late rule change.

9. Has to go to arbitration court.

Seems to me like it's 50:50 which way the ruling will go.

Post edited at 10:55
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AlanLittle 05 Nov 2019
In reply to JLS:

> 9. Has to go to arbitration court.

Whcih would appear to reduce to zero the chance of anybody knowing reasonably in advance - or at all - if they're going to Toulouse in three weeks or not

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cb294 05 Nov 2019
In reply to JLS:

Your scenario seems very plausible.

I would add that while you would think that the IFSC has some experience with organizing qualification for international competitions, for their own world championships they are the big cheeses and make the rules.

With the Olympics, however, they are instead sitting somewhere in the middle between the IOC and the local organizers and their thousands of rules and little demands above, and their own constituent national federations below. This is clearly new for them, the politics of the Olympics are like no other sports event. IIRC other sports newly introduced to the Olympics had similar SNAFUs, I think including Tae Kwon Do.

CB

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JLS 05 Nov 2019
In reply to AlanLittle:

I had thought they might just expand the Toulouse field to include everyone in the mix. Of course that would open up the prospect that if the arbritration ruling goes against someone who does well in Toulouse it will be rather messy to take their olympic place away.

If the ruling can't be made quickly, within a week say, maybe they'll have to pospone Toulouse!

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Michael Hood 05 Nov 2019
In reply to JLS:

I've just read the rules and it seems fairly "clear" to me, but note that this is my interpretation of the rules (how they were followed is another matter). Just going to deal with the men's (to simplify!), the women's should be similar.

If Japan only confirmed Tomoa (and didn't confirm Kai within the 2 week response time), then the other place should first have been offered to Meichi (next best-ranked athlete, not yet qualified), and then (if not confirmed) to Kokoro, and then (if not confirmed) to the next (not Japanese) outside the top 7. The fact that the 2 next best-ranked athletes were also Japanese is (by the rules) not relevant.

Any other (i.e. not Tomoa or Kai if confirmed, or Meichi if confirmed instead, or Kokoro if confirmed instead) Japanese climbers who are within the (remaining) top twenty highest ranked athletes should be selected to compete at Toulouse. The rules do not place any limits on the numbers/NOC qualifying for Toulouse, participation is only restricted to those who have not already qualified from the WC.

Hypothetical situation. The top 22 athletes in the world are Japanese. 2 qualify at the WC. By the rules as written, all 20 places at Toulouse should go to the other 20 Japanese athletes. I don't think this is the IFSC's intent - not well written

Another not well written bit. The phrase in D.2 "not yet qualified through D.1 above" - has someone who has been allocated a quota place from the WC which has been rejected by the NOC "qualified" (in which case Kai, Meichi & Kokoro would not be eligible for Toulouse if their quota place was "rejected"). Or does "not yet qualified" only mean those who's quota place has actually been taken up by the NOC (in which case all 3 should be eligible for Toulouse).

If Japan have confirmed 2 quota places from WC, then no Japanese can get a quota place from Toulouse regardless of their performance there.

If Japan have confirmed 1 quota place from WC, then the highest placed Japanese at Toulouse (assuming in top 6) should be allocated a quota place. If not accepted, then goes to next athlete (whether Japanese or not), etc.

If after all this (and the various CCs), Japan has not yet got any quota places, then it can pick someone as long as they're eligible and have competed at WC or Toulouse or CC.

So, how does Japan guarantee 2 places...

1. Accept 2 from WC; Tomoa + Kai/Meichi/Kokoro

2. Accept 1 from WC and assume that at least one Japanese athlete will be in top 6 in Toulouse.

3. Accept 1 from WC, 0 from Toulouse and hope that CC is won by a Japanese athlete.

4. Accept 1 from WC, 0 from Toulouse, 0 from CC and pray that Tripartate Commission picks Japanese.

The Host Country guarantee does not say "extra" places. So as long as Japan has confirmed at least one quota place from the WC, Toulouse or CC, the guarantee has no effect. The thing that makes it clear that it's not an extra place (to me), is the bit reallocating unused host country places. If these were extra places then the only time reallocation could/would occur would be if the host country had no eligible athletes, or any eligible athletes had not competed at the WC or Toulouse or the appropriate CC.

Simples

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JLS 05 Nov 2019
In reply to Michael Hood:

Good analysis. Though I do not agree with your position on the host place being as clear cut as you say. I do think the Japanese have a case in saying, it could be read as, "here is a place for you, do with it as you will."

I think the IFSC has made two mistakes...

1) Not having water tight wording.

2) Not correcting the Japanese as soon as it became apparent they weren't interpreting the rules in a way which was outwith the spirit in which they were written.

I'd guess the IFSC just initially took the pragmatic view, och well, the Japanese are going to have two(4) potential medal winners at the Olympics regardless of the route they got there, it doesn't really matter, we can afford to let it slide. Perhaps there was a simple reluctance to embarrass the Japanese by pointing out their mistake, I believe this “lose of face” is culturally more significant than perhaps it is here in the West, while also brushing under the carpet the IFSC wording fail. Obviously, this ignores the rights of those athletes that will lose out in participation at Toulouse and rightly their federations will have taken issue, causing the IFSC to back track.

Post edited at 15:01
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JLS 06 Nov 2019
In reply to JLS:

Looking at the combined rankings if arbitration goes in favour of Japan then...

Then I think the following athletes will be offered Toulouse invites:

MEN

Kai Harada, Kokoro Fujii, Meichi Narasaki, Rei Sugimoto & Keieta Dohi

WOMEN

Miho Nonaka, Ai Mori & Futaba Ito

And those that might then forfeit their invites will be...

MEN

Sean Bailey USA, Jernje Kruder SLO, Aleksei Rubtsov RUS, QiXin Zhong CHN & Aleksandr Shikov RUS

WOMEN

Margo Hayes USA, Sandra Lettner AUT & Iuliia Kaplina RUS

This assumes other invitees accept their invites and none have ruled themselves out via injury or the like, in which case other names may come into the frame.

It really really would have been a whole lot simpler if Japan had just signed up to taking their best World Championship performers (Tomoa, Kai, Akiya & Miho) and then took no further part in the qualification process, which is how I expect the IFSC had inticipated it would work...

Post edited at 10:32
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AlanLittle 06 Nov 2019
In reply to JLS:

Which, if you are correct, means Toulouse will be filled with people who cannot qualify at the expense for people who otherwise could. Will there even be enough non-Japanese present to fill the available qualification places? Utter farce. 

Post edited at 10:34
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JLS 06 Nov 2019
In reply to AlanLittle:

>"means Toulouse will be filled with people who cannot qualify at the expense for people who otherwise could"

Well, that hinges on the status Kai & Miho. There are contradictory reports as whether they have now been selected to fill the last spots on the Japanese team. If the Japanese Olympic spots are now full then any Japanese involvement at Toulouse is undesirable. If not, then there are potentially still eight Japanese still fighting for the remaining one male and one female places.

My thinking now is that it's likely arbitration will rule that the Japanese Olympic team must include Kai & Miho and there will be no Japanese involvement at Toulouse.

Post edited at 12:54
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Michael Hood 06 Nov 2019
In reply to JLS:

Which wouldn't be what the rules state, regardless of the IFSCs intentions and expectations. Oops

According to the rules, the Japanese are "allowed" to pack Toulouse thereby restricting the possible Olympic qualifiers.

Whether that would tactically improve their medal chances is debatable since the athletes who might miss Toulouse will be ranked below 20 so (presumably) would be less likely to qualify anyway.

It's nearly as complicated and messed up as "that other subject that shall not be named"

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Arms Cliff 06 Nov 2019
In reply to JLS:

> This assumes other invitees accept their invites and none have ruled themselves out via injury or the like, in which case other names may come into the frame.

> It really really would have been a whole lot simpler if Japan had just signed up to taking their best World Championship performers (Tomoa, Kai, Akiya & Miho) and then took no further part in the qualification process, which is how I expect the IFSC had inticipated it would work...

so if Japan select their team now they can still substitute later on if someone gets an injury? 

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JLS 06 Nov 2019
In reply to Michael Hood:

>"According to the rules, the Japanese are "allowed" to pack Toulouse thereby restricting the possible Olympic qualifiers."

That's a fair point...as daft as it is. You'd have thought the scenario must have been considered and given a green light.

I'm now not sure what the dispute is fundamentally about. The host place? Not selecting Kai & Miho? Number of spots Japan gets for Toulouse? All of the above?

You've almost convinced me that Japan are just following the rules as written, the host spot thing was a red herring - though that would mean Japan have willfully thrown Kai & Miho's guaranteed spots under a bus.

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JLS 06 Nov 2019
In reply to Arms Cliff:

>"so if Japan select their team now they can still substitute later on if someone gets an injury?"

I believe not.

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gooberman-hill 06 Nov 2019
In reply to Michael Hood:

There is also the question of whether qualification is separate from acceptance of a place by the NOC.  If they are separate (and I think that the wording is ambiguous), then once you have qualified, then you are out of Toulouse and Continental competitions. 

Steve

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Arms Cliff 06 Nov 2019
In reply to JLS:

> >"so if Japan select their team now they can still substitute later on if someone gets an injury?"

> I believe not.


So it’s in Japan’s interest to delay their final selection to as near to the Olympics as possible in case of injury? 

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JLS 06 Nov 2019
In reply to Arms Cliff:

>"So it’s in Japan’s interest to delay their final selection to as near to the Olympics as possible in case of injury?"

Yes, I believe this may have been the Japanese plan but it hinges on being able to use their host spot to select from quite a large group of eligible climbers. From memory, I believe as late as next June was talked about as the date when the host spot names would be confirmed, so a significant advantage if you can hold off naming names until then.

Post edited at 15:51
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JLS 06 Nov 2019
In reply to gooberman-hill:

>"There is also the question of whether qualification is separate from acceptance of a place by the NOC.  If they are separate (and I think that the wording is ambiguous), then once you have qualified, then you are out of Toulouse and Continental competitions."

Indeed. I however find it hard to believe that Japan would throw Kai & Miho's guaranteed spots under a bus UNLESS they believed they could be revived later with host spots if nessecary.  I.e. Kai & Miho were still the best uninjured option when the time to confirm the host spot names came round.

Post edited at 16:04
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AlanLittle 06 Nov 2019
In reply to gooberman-hill:

I think you can compete in the continental competitions to your heart's content - and I could see Ai Mori & Futaba Ito being motivated to give Akiyo & Miho a good stomping. They just won't qualify for the Olympics by doing so.

Post edited at 16:27
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JLS 06 Nov 2019
In reply to JLS:

This just in...

https://www.gymclimber.com/ifsc-sued-by-japanese-climbing-federation-and-athlete-invitations-frozen/

Given the last minute rule change and the ambiguity around the situation, the Japanese climbing federation (JMSCA) has sued IFSC. 

Mr.Yujiro Goda, managing director of JMSCA, told a Japanese news station, “Why should I just wait because IFSC told me? I want to do what I can for the athletes.” He decided legal action would be the best way to get IFSC’s attention.”

If Gym Climbers list is correct, I’m not sure what Japan’s issue is. Their athletes don’t seem to have been disadvantaged, though the status of Kai & Mhio remains unclear.

Gym Climbers list of Athletes Expected to go to Toulouse:

Women

Lucka Rakovec (SLO)

YueTong Zhang (CHN)

Fanny Gibert (FRA)

Jain Kim (KOR)

Julia Chanourdie (FRA)

Ai Mori (JPN)

Mia Krampl (SLO)

Futaba Ito (JPN)

Kyra Condie (USA)

Anouck Jaubert (FRA) (added with rule change)

YILing Song (CHN)

Sol Sa (KOR)

Ashima Shiraishi (USA)

Aries Susanti Rahayu (INA)

Levgeniia Kazbekova (UKR)

Laura Rogora (ITA)

Alannah Yip (CAN)

Elnaz Rekabi (IRI)

Aleksandra Kalucka (POL)

Margo Hayes (USA) (added with rule change)

OUT Sandra Lettner (AUT)

OUT Luliia Kaplina (RUS)

Men

Adam Ondra (CZE)

Kokoro Fujii (JPN)

YuFei Pan (CHN)

Jan Hojer (GER)

William Bosi (GBR)

Sascha Lehmann (SUI)

Meichi Narasaki (JPN)

Manuel Cornu (FRA)

Rei Sugimoto (JPN) (added with rule change)

Nikolai Yarilovets (RUS)

Jongwon Chon (KOR)

Alberto Ginés López (ESP)

Keita Dohi (JPN) (added with rule change)

Bassa Mawem (FRA)

Yannick Flohé (GER)

Alfian Muhammad (INA)

Stefano Ghisolfi (ITA)

Anze Peharc (SLO)

Nathaniel Coleman (USA)

Sean Bailey (USA)

OUT Jernej Kruder (SLO)

OUT Aleksei Rubtsov (RUS)

Post edited at 22:26
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henwardian 06 Nov 2019
In reply to JLS:

But wow, just wow. Every incident of petty crap over whose foot was too close to which bolt or bit of advertising poster soured the competition scene for me, one drop at a time. Then there was the "lets make everyone do vertical sprinting" brainfart and the ever-shortening time for lead and boulder attempts bleeding a load of climbing strategy out of the events and now this....

It feels like there were such high hopes but time took our dreams away and left naught but a side of our sport consumed by slow decay.

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CVI 06 Nov 2019
In reply to JLS:

The IFSC posted a list if confirmed Olympic athelets on 4/11

https://www.ifsc-climbing.org/index.php/world-competition/olympic-games

Both Nonaka and Harada are included.

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Michael Hood 07 Nov 2019
In reply to JLS:

Any idea where the (now revoked) 2 invites/NOC for Toulouse limit comes from? Can't see it in the IFSCs qualification rules.

Agree that the Japanese don't seem to be disadvantaged, except for having to already confirm their second athletes.

I suspect the suing has an element of a "sort your act out" message to the IFSC.

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Lemony 07 Nov 2019
In reply to henwardian:

Wow, what a bunch of histrionic bollocks. This is a minor quibble about a poorly drafted rule such as has happened in every sport under the sun since time immemorial.

i can only assume that you’ve not watched any comp climbing recently  if you think it has been “consumed by slow decay”. It’s a stronger spectacle with each passing year, attracting many of the strongest climbers who’ve ever lived.

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AlanLittle 07 Nov 2019
In reply to Lemony:

He‘s right about the time limits on lead & bouldering though

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Lemony 07 Nov 2019
In reply to AlanLittle:

I like the lead reduction but liked 4+ so I’m divided on that.

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JLS 07 Nov 2019
In reply to henwardian:

>"It feels like there were such high hopes but time took our dreams away and left naught but a side of our sport consumed by slow decay."

While I'm no fan of the deacreased time limit in lead and the scraping of 4min+ rule in boulder (I could happily watch an unhurried Jain Kim all day), the sport as it is stands, for me,  is still a joy.

As Lemony says, in the big scheme of things, this Olympic selection debacle is really only a minor quibble, or be it, no doubt massively disappointing for the induviduals that feel their shot at becoming an Olympian has been snatched away.

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JLS 07 Nov 2019
In reply to CVI:

Cheers for digging that out. Re Nonaka and Harada, I do wonder if this list is an IFSC wishlist rather than the actual final list...

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JLS 07 Nov 2019
In reply to Michael Hood:

>"Any idea where the (now revoked) 2 invites/NOC for Toulouse limit comes from? Can't see it in the IFSCs qualification rules."

Yeah, it's unclear to me where this rule has come from / gone to and what motivated the change of heart. It hardly seems to make a heap of diffrence to the overall process and any late movement of goal posts would just seem like the IFSC making a rod for their own back.

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Michael Hood 07 Nov 2019
In reply to JLS: or anyone else who might know...

Question: Once all 20+20 have been confirmed (by IFSC, IOC, NOCs, etc.) what happens if one of them withdraws due to injury/drugs/etc?

Does the place go to:

a) Another athlete from that NOC who has "qualified" - what the Japanese want (presumably).

b) The next available "not qualified" athlete (regardless of NOC).

Either way keeping within the 2/NOC rule.

If b), then what does "next" mean? Is it always going to be from the WC, or is it the next person from the same qualification route as the non-attendee (I suspect this is more likely, so that you still get one from each CC, etc.).

Of course the rules don't cover this situation; not confirmed by NOC uses "same qualification route", host country and tripartite uses WC. Yet another gap to be cleared up for 2024

Regardless, as it currently stands, if a Japanese athlete withdraws, then they've got the "next" athletes either way (because all of theirs qualified via WC).

Post edited at 09:43
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JLS 07 Nov 2019
In reply to Michael Hood:

>"what happens if one of them withdraws due to injury/drugs/etc?"

Yeah, no mention of that scenario in the rules. My guess is that they probably only really need 16 to make the speed knockout comp work so are anticipating that if up to 4 drop out then it's no big deal. Even if 5 drop out I expect the fastest speed climber would just get a walk-over into the last 8.

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CVI 07 Nov 2019
In reply to Michael Hood:

Qualification is for named athlete only.

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henwardian 07 Nov 2019
In reply to Lemony:

> i can only assume that you’ve not watched any comp climbing recently  if you think it has been “consumed by slow decay”. It’s a stronger spectacle with each passing year, attracting many of the strongest climbers who’ve ever lived.

Poor assumption.

And I can only assume you are not a Pink Floyd fan :P

Post edited at 16:09
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JLS 07 Nov 2019
In reply to JLS:

The Gym Climber have updated their piece with a few new snippets of information.

Worth another look if you are still interested.  

https://www.gymclimber.com/ifsc-sued-by-japanese-climbing-federation-and-athlete-invitations-frozen/

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