The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has approved a new Olympic qualification system for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
However, the new qualifying standards are seen as way too tough.
The qualification window has been extended by two months for most events, which would see the start period brought forward to May 1, 2019 instead of July 1.
This is meant to include more international competitions such as the IAAF Diamond League. The qualifying period ends on June 29, 2020. National team coach, Justice Dipeba told Mmegi Sport that the qualifying standards are very tough and it is going to be difficult for athletes to achieve them.
“A lot of young and up coming athletes may not make it to the Olympics. I mean if we go back to 2016, athletes like Karabo Sibanda, Christine Botlogetswe and Boitumelo Masilo might not have made it to the Olympics if the new system was used then,” he said.
“The points system was going to work against them, because they only had few quality competitions where they were able to meet the standards,” he added. Dipeba said the points system would work against local athletes as it is difficult to get competitions in the region or even across Africa. He said athletes would have to go to Europe so that they can get quality and IAAF recognised competitions, something that is going to be difficult as it is expensive to go there.
“We are not going to see the exciting surprise packages like we always do in these big games. Remember, we went with Sibanda to the games after just meeting the minimum qualifications and he was a surprise package. He knew he was going to make it to the finals and finished in the top five,” Dipeba said. He said with the new system, there would be no young and upcoming athletes making their names at big events like Olympics. He said the decision must be reconsidered.
When asked what could have influenced IAAF to come up with a tough system, Dipeba said the IAAF might have felt that there were too many heats, as a result of more athletes qualifying. “So this system would help them to cut the numbers of athletes.” He said the Diamond league system seems to be taking over, trying to keep the events times short. “As you might be aware, they have proposed to take out the long distance events in Diamond Leagues,” Dipeba said. Timing specialist, Tshepo Kelaotswe said the qualifying standards are tough. He said the bar has been set higher as a lot of athletes run faster times these day. “The strategy is to cut down on the number of athletes that qualify for events. It is also meant to assist Local Organising Committees (LOC’s) not to deal with many people,” he said.
Under the new qualification process, an athlete can qualify for the 2020 Olympics in one of two ways: Achieve the entry standard within the respective qualification period and Qualify by virtue of his/her IAAF world ranking position in the selected event at the end of the respective qualification period. The process is designed to achieve about 50 percent of the target numbers for each event through entry standards and the remaining 50 percent through the IAAF World Ranking System.
Selected new qualifying standards:
100m (men: 10.05, women: 11.15)
200m (men 20.24, women 22.80)
400m (men: 44.90, women 51.35)
800m (men 1:45.20, women 1:59.50.)