The Olympics explained

There has been a lot of confusion regarding how to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics 2020.
Luckily, Jorg Verhoeven is there to explain it all.

Olympic climbing in a nutshell

Sport climbing is Olympic; at least for now. During the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics sport climbing will be one of 33 sports, with 20 female and 20 male climbers competing for two out of 339 sets of medals.

There has been quite some confusion over the format of the event and its qualification process, so just as the last details are being decided by the IOC/IFSC, here's a summary of how things will work.


A combined format was chosen, meaning all three disciplines in modern competition climbing will be involved: Speed, Bouldering and Lead. The event will span four days and will have two rounds:

qualification round (all 20 climbers – 1 day/gender)

final round (top 6 climbers – 1 day/gender)

Both rounds will comprise each discipline, in the respective order: Speed (two runs), Bouldering (four boulders) and Lead (one route), with a break varying from 15 to 120 min in between disciplines for each climber1.

Results will be calculated by multiplying ranks of each discipline.

Qualification system

An Olympic qualification system has the goal to select the world's best sportsmen/-women, but also to ensure universality, both from a geographical and a gender point of view. This explains the following qualification pathways:

2019 Combined World Championships Tokyo (top 7)

2019 Special Qualifying Event [2] (top 6)

2020 Combined Continental Championships [3] (5, first place of each CCH [4])

Hosting Country (1)

tripartite invitation place [5] (1)

Total: 20 per gender [6]


1. Climbing breaks for qualifying round: minimum 30 min. and 120 min. before bouldering and lead respectively. Climbing breaks for final round: minimum 15 min. before bouldering and lead.

2. Top 20 of the Overall World Cup 2019 will be selected for the Special Qualifying Event, which will be held according to the Olympic format.

3. Preference lies with the CCH's: In case a climber is already qualified by WCH or the special event, next best ranked from CCH will be qualified.

4. Following CCH apply: Asia, Europe, Pan-Am, Africa, Oceania.

5. Tripartite invitation places: An IOC/NOC/IFSC-commission will choose one female and one male climber 'respecting a universal representation', meaning these climbers most likely come from least represented countries/continents.

5A maximum quota of 2 per country per gender applies.

Forums 49 comments

Tweaking something to increase its appeal or entertainment value, like what F1 seems to do every season. As an aside I watched the grand prix on Sunday for the first time in about a decade. Really very dull, I just...
Those I wasn't aware of, being someone who mostly doesn't follow sports beyond ice hockey. It always bemuses me when a game survives with the rules unchanged for decades - centuries even - only to fall victim to 21st...
Rules in most olympic sports are continuously tweaked for "entertainment" purposes, which roughly equates to supposedly becoming more TV friendly. Just off the top of my head, this includes e.g. table tennis (shorter...
I'd have (maybe naively) hoped that the inclusion of a sport in the Olympics wouldn't need tweaking for entertainment value but woud be there as-is on the virtues of it as a sport. It's all a bit too American or F1 for...
Yes, I think that the spectator appeal claim about speed climbing might be insulting the public's intelligence. The idea in lead climbing that you ahave to get higher than everyone else really is easy enough to...
They've probably aged a bit by now. Ioc, there was me thinking the Olympics was people competing in sports that already fully existed, not just creating something audiences might like, to then sell stadium tickets and...

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