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With trials looming, IOC could adjust Olympic qualifying

by AP

There are still around 4,700 out of nearly 11,000 Olympic spots to be decided; almost all in the headliner sports

 A number of qualifying events for swimming are yet to be gone through. AP Photo

Boston: Almost any athlete will concede that getting picked for an Olympic team is as much of a challenge as competing for one.

The IOC acknowledged on Tuesday just how frazzling the whole process could be this year, and a few leaders from the athlete community weighed in on how the uncertainty is plaguing them, as well.

While pushing forward for its planned July 24 start for the Tokyo Games, the IOC outlined how the invitations might be sorted out if the dozens of Olympic trials and qualifiers slated for this spring and summer around the globe get canceled or postponed due to the coronavirus.

Half the Olympic spots not filled

There are still around 4,700 out of nearly 11,000 Olympic spots to be decided with four months remaining until opening night.

And though the IOC insists it’s still too early to make “drastic decisions” about the Games themselves, it put out a communique acknowledging that there might need to be contingency plans for picking teams.

“Currently … the athletes face significant challenges around securing the final qualification places for the Games,” the IOC said in its statement. “In some countries, athletes are even finding it hard to continue their regular training schedules.”

No qualifiers yet in headliner sports

Though 57 percent of the Olympic sports have been decided, virtually none of them come from the Olympics’ three headliner sports: track, swimming, and gymnastics.

In the United States and many other countries, those spots are determined at the Olympic trials in June, which are in limbo.

The track and gymnastics federations said they were busy this week considering alternatives in case trials can’t go forward.

In the U.S., track and swimming award spots to top finishers in each event — taking subjective measures and past performances out of consideration in all but the rarest of circumstances.

Other methods of qualifying

But the IOC suggested that other methods might have to be used — including relying on historical performances and international rankings.

Making that more difficult is the continued withering of the pre-Olympic schedule. Two key international gymnastics meets have already been scrubbed, and on Tuesday, the Diamond League, which draws top track stars from across the globe, announced it was postponing three events in April and May.

As much as rankings, those events are considered crucial toward helping athletes get into top form as they approach the Olympics. Lack of events combined with limits on training that some athletes are being forced into under quarantine situations is adding to the uncertainty.

Still, the IOC made clear it would not be rushed into a decision. It said it was following the guidance of world health experts, and that because of insurance policies, the decision “will not be determined by financial interests.”

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