World Athletics will now look to develop “a clear and fair process” for remaining athletes to qualify for next year’s Games

All athletes to have already achieved the entry standard for their event at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games will remain qualified for the postponed Games now taking place in 2021, World Athletics president Seb Coe has confirmed.

In a letter to the athletics community, Coe (pictured) added that the world governing body’s review of the Olympic qualification system would be expedited, with any changes to the process to be announced as soon as possible “so athletes know where they stand”.

This includes the development of “a clear and fair process” for remaining athletes to qualify for the Games, which had been due to take place from July 24 to August 9 but are now scheduled to be held before the end of the summer next year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Last week all sports agreed to the International Olympic Committee’s proposal that all athletes currently qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games will remain qualified for next year’s event,” Coe wrote. “In athletics the primary qualification avenue is by meeting the entry standards set out in March 2019.

“Once those places are allocated, the remaining athletes are drawn from the world ranking list.

“As of today, all athletes who have met the entry standards for their event will remain qualified for the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2021. This is approximately 50% of the places. What is important now is that we develop a clear and fair process for the remaining athletes to qualify, given many events have been postponed.

“We will work with our Athletes’ Commission, our Council and the IOC to do this. We are also looking at how we can preserve an outdoor competition season this year with a series of one-day meetings on each continent that may begin as late as August and run to early October, so our athletes can get back in to competition as quickly as possible when it is safe to do so.”

On Friday it was confirmed that further to the postponement of the first three meetings of the 2020 Diamond League season, scheduled for Qatar and China, the May meetings in Stockholm (May 24), Naples/Rome (May 28) and Rabat (May 31) will also be rescheduled.

In his letter, Coe added that the current time can now be used to innovate and consider things such as “weekend festivals of running, jumping and throwing” and for reorganising the global calendar of events.

“In sport we have a unique opportunity not to tip toe around things and tweak at the edges,” he wrote. “We have the chance to think bigger, to rip up the blueprints and banish the ‘that’s the way we’ve always done it’ mentality.

“Ironically, I believe social distancing will actually bring us closer together as a community and sport can sit right at the centre. The situation the world finds itself in today is a huge wake up call for all of us – as human beings, as businesses and as sport. We should capitalise on this and work out new ways of delivering events, create and plan new events that embrace the many as well as the few.

“We can use this time to innovate and extend our sport across the year. Rather than just focusing on one-day meetings and one-day road races at one end of the spectrum and 10-day extravaganzas at the other end, we should look at weekend festivals of running, jumping and throwing that take advantage of the Southern and Northern Hemisphere seasons. We should work with governments to re-establish sport in schools, rebuild club structures, incentivise people to exercise and get fit (I rather fancy more people are exercising this week – doing 15-minute exercise routines in their homes or going out for a daily walk – than they have probably done in the last month). This should and could be the new normal. We don’t have to do things the same way.”

He continued: “The world will not be the same after this pandemic. It will be different and that could be a good thing. Going back to core human values, back to basics of what is important, redefining our purpose, is something we can all do on a human, business and sporting scale.

“We have heard a lot in the past week from governments, health care professionals, Prime Ministers and Presidents about social distancing and we are all practising it. But as I said at the beginning, although we may be separated physically during this period, my instinct is that ultimately this will draw us closer together, not further apart.”

The full letter can be found here.

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