/ ARTICLE: Tokyo 2020 Olympic Selection Explained

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UKC Articles 04 Aug 2019
Janja Garnbret pulls off another feat of impressive competition climbing in Munich, 2019. It's exactly one year to go until the first day of Sport Climbing action at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. IFSC Commentator Charlie Boscoe takes us through the selection process as we near the 2019 Combined World Championships in Tokyo starting on 11th August - a competition which will select the first 7 athletes for the 2020 Games...

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Reach>Talent 04 Aug 2019
In reply to UKC Articles:

Do any other Olympic sports have such an insane qualification route or were the planning committee not on speaking terms with each other?

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Lemony 04 Aug 2019
In reply to Reach>Talent:

It's not that insane is it? A series of qualifying tournaments and then a bit of autonomy for the individual nations to allow some classic political fudges...

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Wil Treasure 04 Aug 2019
In reply to Reach>Talent:

> Do any other Olympic sports have such an insane qualification route...?

Complex yes, but it hardly seems insane. The Olympics wants climbers from a broad range of countries and from each continent they recognise (and no more than 2 per gender per country) which is understandable, a balance between representing the best and representing the world.

From there you have to be eligible, do very well in a qualifying event, and beat most of your compatriots. I doubt that's much different to any other Olympic sport with a similar number of competitors. The last part is the usual intranational politics of countries favouring certain athletes.

I would have thought from the point of view of an individual athlete trying to qualify it's fairly obvious what they need to do, with a few getting through on the need for diversity in countries/continents rather than direct merit.

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Ian W 04 Aug 2019
In reply to Reach>Talent:

> Do any other Olympic sports have such an insane qualification route or were the planning committee not on speaking terms with each other?


Its pretty common for there to be pre-qualifying events for olympic events. Football, volleyball, basketball, ice hockey, equestrianism etc etc The format for the prequalifying varies from sport to sport.

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Reach>Talent 04 Aug 2019
In reply to Lemony:

It just seems a bit cobbled together although I assume the home crowd would quite like a "just take the top 20 climbers of each gender irrespective of where they come from based on world cup rankings". Also cutting the field down to 20 and 2 per country seems a bit harsh as you risk some really top climbers from heavily represented countries not making the cut. I guess no one wants to be sat in isolation for 3 hours but opening up the field a bit wouldn't be that hard to arrange.

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Ian W 04 Aug 2019
In reply to Reach>Talent:

One of the restrictions is on the number of athletes that can take part - and be accomodated - at each games; i believe the number is 10,600. Its also a large part of the decision to have a combined medal rather than the separate disciplines. Climbing is a new sport in the olympics, and one of the ways of getting in is to make it easy for the organisers.

Yes there is an argument for having the best 20 (or whatever number is deemed appropriate), but at the closing speech at each olympiad, the IOC president invites the "youth of the world" to convene in 4 years time etc etc - its a global festival as well as a sports tournament.

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pwhitmarsh 05 Aug 2019
In reply to UKC Articles:

Really good article Charlie - thanks so much for this!

One question - if a country fills its allocation from the World Championships, will athletes from that country even compete in the later events? E.g. if 2 Japanese men and women qualify from the World Championships, does that mean that no Japanese athletes will be at the Toulouse or Asian events?

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Charlie Boscoe 05 Aug 2019
In reply to pwhitmarsh:

Cheers, glad you enjoyed it.

Japanese athletes will still go to Toulouse/Asian Champs even if they "fill" their quota in Hachioji because the more Japanese athletes who officially qualify for an Olympic spot, the more choice the Japanese NOC has about which climbers to take. If (for example) Tomoa fluffs his lines in Hachioji, he'll try and make himself eligible for selection somewhere else in the Qualification Pathway.

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Coel Hellier 05 Aug 2019
In reply to Ian W:

> One of the restrictions is on the number of athletes that can take part - and be accomodated - at each games; i believe the number is 10,600.

Maybe they should take some of the 18 different disciplines away from swimming?  Do they really need 4 different styles, all in various different distances, and then medleys and relays as well (plus of course a medley-relay)?

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Ian W 05 Aug 2019
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> Maybe they should take some of the 18 different disciplines away from swimming?  Do they really need 4 different styles, all in various different distances, and then medleys and relays as well (plus of course a medley-relay)?

And in fairness to the IOC, this is something they are looking at in oedrr to accomodate a wider range of sports; one of the odd things about the olympics is that one person can win so many medals - Michael Phelps for eg, whilst most can only get one or maybe 2. We dont need to be reminded 8 times per games that he is the best swimmer; we've already got that message!

Cycling has been changed around over the last couple of games, and there seem some very specialised shooting events; perhaps sports like this should have a combined medal as well rather than several for what are to the uninitiated essentially the same thing.

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Ramon Marin 05 Aug 2019
In reply to UKC Articles:

This reminds of me trying to remember the rules of Cricket... unwieldy complex for my simple brain. But good luck to all Brits trying to qualify.

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cb294 05 Aug 2019
In reply to Lemony:

No, sounds pretty standard to me.

CB

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L Bobo 05 Aug 2019
In reply to Charlie Boscoe:

> Japanese athletes will still go to Toulouse/Asian Champs even if they "fill" their quota in Hachioji because the more Japanese athletes who officially qualify for an Olympic spot, the more choice the Japanese NOC has about which climbers to take. If (for example) Tomoa fluffs his lines in Hachioji, he'll try and make himself eligible for selection somewhere else in the Qualification Pathway.

If there will be exactly two Japanese men or women on first 7 places in Hachioji, those two will be confirmed by JMA and no one can qualify at later events. If there will be 3 or more, JMA will confirm only the 1st one and one spot remains open for later events (Toulouse, Asian CH or Japan's qualification event).

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Pedro50 05 Aug 2019
In reply to Ramon Marin:

> This reminds of me trying to remember the rules of Cricket...  

LAWS!

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Dan Arkle 05 Aug 2019
In reply to Ian W:

>  perhaps sports like this should have a combined medal as well rather than several for what are to the uninitiated essentially the same thing.

  erm this is exactly the problem with the climbing format. 

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joeldering 05 Aug 2019
In reply to Charlie Boscoe:

Thanks for the insight.

One thing I'm a little confused about :

> If a climber has met the IFSC/IOC criteria to qualify for the Olympics, their National Olympic Committee (NOC) is notified and then each NOC has 2 weeks to confirm whether they wish to take up the allocated slot.

On which date do the NOCs have to confirm their places? Is this going to be in 2020, or will they have to confirm places two weeks after Hachioji?

Post edited at 21:53
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In reply to Ian W:

I'm glad I won't be a swimming journalist in Tokyo! So many events...

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planetmarshall 05 Aug 2019
In reply to Reach>Talent:

> Also cutting the field down to 20 and 2 per country seems a bit harsh as you risk some really top climbers from heavily represented countries not making the cut.

Well that's true of many disciplines. Imagine being a top distance runner from an East African nation - you might be in the top 10 athletes in the world for your discipline and still not make the cut.

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AnnAtLarge 06 Aug 2019
In reply to UKC Articles:

This entire thing blasted through my mind in Charlie’s voice, breathless and fast, as it is during events. I’m exhausted! 

Ps no better sense of those noc selection tricks than the Soviet Union in 1990s Olympic gymnastics. Epics! Tears!

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Charlie Boscoe 06 Aug 2019
In reply to joeldering:

It's 2 weeks after Hachioji, so we'll have some confirmed Olympians (injury or other such issues permitting) by early September.

The IFSC has a maximum of 5 days after each event in the Qualification Pathway to notify the relevant NOCs of which athletes have "qualified" and then the NOCs confirm which places they wish to take within a maximum of 2 weeks after the event.

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JLS 06 Aug 2019
In reply to Charlie Boscoe:

>”It's 2 weeks after Hachioji”

That’s interesting in that it forces the NOC’s to commit early to names. It would be a big gamble not to select the first two names that qualify and instead turn down a place in the hope that a climber with a better proven track record who has literally slipped up in Hachioji then manages to qualify by one of the later routes.

i think I’d have preferred for all qualified athletes to go on to a NOS shortlist and the actual name selection to take place nearer to the Olympics or at least after all the qualification routes have closed.

I’d have thought injury was bound play a part over the next year. A NOS may see it’s early selection fall victim of injury and loose it’s places at the Olympics despite having other qualified athletes.

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JLS 06 Aug 2019
In reply to JLS:

The Olympic event scoring system is also quite interesting. The fact that the round rankings are multiplied and not just added has some implications. Firstly, multiplying rather than adding will create fewer ties but more than that, it will favour those that can be near the top of the field in two events. I.e. Ondra and Janja who will mostly likely be up there in both Lead and Boulder don’t have to be too worried about their speed ranking. Where as speed specialists who can’t expect more than mediocre lead and boulder rankings will not figure in the medals.

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mrjonathanr 06 Aug 2019
In reply to Ramon Marin:

You have two sides, one out in the field and one in. Each man that’s in the side that’s in goes out, and when he’s out he comes in and the next man goes in until he’s out.

When they are all out, the side that’s out comes in and the side that’s been in goes out and tries to get those coming in, out. Sometimes you get men still in and not out.

When a man goes out to go in, the men who are out try to get him out, and when he is out he goes in and the next man in goes out and goes in.

There are two men called umpires who stay out all the time and they decide when the men who are in are out.

When both sides have been in and all the men have out, and both sides have been out twice after all the men have been in, including those who are not out, that is the end of the game.

Does that help?

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Graeme Alderson 06 Aug 2019
In reply to mrjonathanr:

Where in the Laws is the bit about England collapsing?

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Sam Shilliday 06 Aug 2019
In reply to UKC Articles:

It will be interesting to watch the process unfold and wether already qualified athletes show up to later events will be more important than you think given the combined format.

The country quotas will only have a significant effect on Japan, although it's possible some European countries would have three people meet the mark. 

It's also likely the continental qualifiers from Africa and Oceania will be far off the pace compared to rest.  

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Charlie Boscoe 07 Aug 2019
In reply to JLS:

"That’s interesting in that it forces the NOC’s to commit early to names. It would be a big gamble not to select the first two names that qualify and instead turn down a place in the hope that a climber with a better proven track record who has literally slipped up in Hachioji then manages to qualify by one of the later routes."

Yeah, that's a good point which I hadn't actually considered. It feels like I know the theory of the Qualification Pathway, but nobody is quite sure what it will actually look like as it plays out. Will be an interesting 6 months!

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planetmarshall 07 Aug 2019
In reply to Graeme Alderson:

> Where in the Laws is the bit about England collapsing?

The Laws of Thermodynamics.

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JLS 08 Aug 2019
In reply to JLS:

More factoids and stats on the topic here (with a slightly America slant)...

https://beta-angel.com/2019/08/05/invitation-watch-2019/

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Rad 08 Aug 2019

Will the IFSC be filming the comps and streaming them? Posting on Youtube after the fact? I'm keen to watch it all go down!

Can you imagine the tension within the Japanese team?!? So much talent, so few slots.

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Graeme Alderson 08 Aug 2019
In reply to Rad:

Semi Finals and Finals for 'normal' World Champs will be live streamed, quals will be filmed for highlights.

All of the Combined Champs will be live streamed.

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JLS 10 Aug 2019
In reply to Charlie Boscoe:

>”All climbers who gain a ranking (ie. participate) in all 3 disciplines will then get a combined ranking, and the top 20 men and top 20 women in the combined rankings will then compete in the Combined World Championships.”

Looking at the HACHIOJI starters here...

https://www.ifsc-climbing.org/index.php/world-competition/calendar#!type=starters&comp=8253

It “looks like” Shauna is only registered to do the combined comp. Can you confirm that by default this means she needs to do all the other individual comps as stated above?

Any intel of why Molly isn’t going for the combined? I thought she was super keen on the Olympics...

I can see that by not doing the bouldering, it might give her an edge in the race to be individual lead champ. Is that her play?

Post edited at 17:00
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Charlie Boscoe 10 Aug 2019
In reply to JLS:

I'm 99% sure that being registered for the combined comp means you're registered automatically for all 3 disciplines in the "normal" World Champs, so Shauna should be down for all 3. Ondra and McColl (and several others I guess, I only had a quick look) are only registered for combined, so I'm assuming that means they're doing all 3 disciplines. I'm heading to Japan tomorrow so I'll know more by the middle of the week, and in the meantime I'm sure Graeme can confirm. Right now I'm savouring a final glass of red wine on my couch before the madness begins!

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JLS 10 Aug 2019
In reply to Charlie Boscoe:

Cheers. Hope it all goes smoothly for you.

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JLS 10 Aug 2019
In reply to Charlie Boscoe:

On a second read of the list I suspect it may not be as comprehensively compiled as we’d hope for.

At face value it would appear Japan have only registered one male and one female for the combined. That can’t be right!  

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Charlie Boscoe 10 Aug 2019
In reply to JLS:

No, that doesn't sound right at all. Suspect it will all become clear as the list is updated.

Hope you enjoy watching, should be a cracker!

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SallyM 11 Aug 2019
In reply to Reach>Talent:

> Do any other Olympic sports have such an insane qualification route or were the planning committee not on speaking terms with each other?

It's really not that bad. I am a weightlifting coach and the qualification process for weightlifting is way more complicated! Not to mention dealing with the fall-out from doping sanctions - so far not an issue for climbing ;-)

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joeldering 11 Aug 2019
In reply to JLS:

It looks like you could register for the Combined or you could register for all 3 disciplines individually - both of which seem functionally equivalent, but are confusingly listed separately.

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JLS 12 Aug 2019
In reply to joeldering:

Yeah, I think you might be right.

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john arran 12 Aug 2019
In reply to joeldering:

The way I read it - and I could be wrong - is that, in addition to the usual quota of people entered into individual events (where each climber can be entered into 1, 2 or 3 disciplines) there's an additional quota of one climber per country but that climber must be entered into all 3 disciplines. Similar for male and female obviously.

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Billymo 12 Aug 2019
In reply to JLS:

Supposedly Molly wasn't selected for bouldering. 

Not sure if that means by Team GB or IFSC?

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In reply to Billymo:

Team GB. Criteria for bouldering was a top 30 finish in at least one of the WCs this year.

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JLS 12 Aug 2019
In reply to Billymo:

I can't see it being an IFSC block. Her bouldering results to date aren't dire. From a GB point of view she was be no means a dead cert to make an impact on the combined comp but must have had a decent outside chance of making the top 20 cut. If you make the top 20 then if luck goes your way perhaps you might end up top 10. If the top 10 is flooded by Jananese and Solvenians she might have ended up with an olympic place. Musta been worth a shot...

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JLS 12 Aug 2019
In reply to Natalie Berry - UKC:

Bummer. She was pretty close then. Seems a bit daft that Team GB would rule her out while there was still a chance she could do something...

Post edited at 14:10
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Billymo 12 Aug 2019
In reply to Natalie Berry - UKC:

Is there a significant cost to entering someone? Molyl clearly had some mitigating circumstances in the bouldering season but had to be worth a shot.

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galpinos 12 Aug 2019
In reply to Natalie Berry - UKC:

Is that her opportunity gone or can she still get a slot another way?

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In reply to Billymo:

I think Molly is keen to focus on lead for the rest of the season, as she explains in her latest 'The Season So Far' article: https://www.ukclimbing.com/news/2019/07/molly_thompson-smith_-_the_2019_season_so_far_2-72010

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JLS 12 Aug 2019
In reply to galpinos:

>"Is that her opportunity gone or can she still get a slot another way?"

Looking at the numbers, I think there's still a theoretical chance she could make the ranking for an invite to the Tolouse event. However it's problably more likely she'll come up a few ranking places short. There's three lead events and one speed event to go but it sounds like she's either given up hope or effectively been forced to give up on the combined and the Olympics.

Post edited at 16:20
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galpinos 12 Aug 2019
In reply to JLS:

I imagine she'll miss Tolouse due to ranking so is it them just the "Continental Championship"? How do you qualify for that?

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JLS 14 Aug 2019
In reply to Natalie Berry - UKC:

>"Team GB. Criteria for bouldering was a top 30 finish in at least one of the WCs this year."

That seems an odd achievement standard for a combined comp, when say 6th in Lead and 37th in Boulder trumps, say 15th in Lead and 15th in Boulder. Particularly, given the althete is at the event anyway! Not's not like the BMC have saved an airfare*.

I really can't understand what's to be gained by ruling Molly out of doing the HACHIOJI combined comp. Who should I ask at Team GB?  I mean, what if Molly has a super lead comp and podiums? Surely that would have given her a decent chance of a combined result?

Edit: *not that I think the BMC pay the airfare anyway.

Post edited at 13:50
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Webster 15 Aug 2019
In reply to Reach>Talent:

> It just seems a bit cobbled together although I assume the home crowd would quite like a "just take the top 20 climbers of each gender irrespective of where they come from based on world cup rankings". Also cutting the field down to 20 and 2 per country seems a bit harsh as you risk some really top climbers from heavily represented countries not making the cut. I guess no one wants to be sat in isolation for 3 hours but opening up the field a bit wouldn't be that hard to arrange.

thats the same in every olympic sport. think Kenya and marathon running, they can only take 2 (or 3 or 4, however many it is) when if it was purely the top 20 ranked marathon runners in the world, 19 might be kenyan. while that would be the fairest method, it would make for a boring competition and at the end of the day the olympic survival relies on viewership.

and remember when track cycling was only allowed 1 athlete per gender per nation and the BOC and british cycling had to chose between defending champion and all around legend Chris Hoy and the silver medallist from the last olympics in Jason Kenny...

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JLS 21:03 Wed
In reply to Natalie Berry - UKC:

> Team GB. Criteria for bouldering was a top 30 finish in at least one of the WCs this year.

Just noticed, the scoring App currently suggests Molly was 26th in Wujaing!

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trouserburp 23:52 Wed
In reply to UKC Articles:

 Not the first climbing Olympians by 100 years or so but possibly the first Calvinball Olympians

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In reply to trouserburp:

The recipients of the medals for the 1923 Everest Expidition weren't Olympians in the sense that they did not compete in the Games.

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