We have been talking about it for months and much longer, with the postponement of the Olympic Games last year. The Olympic qualification period will soon be over, following the World Championships in Budapest in June. From here in Antalya, there are a few more events that will bring valuable points and determine the final list and who can dream of gold in Tokyo this summer. A crucial element of the process for all countries, the coaches and their staff, is to have their eyes riveted on the world ranking list, which is gradually approaching the final Olympic ranking. The two will become one within a few weeks, but how exactly does it work?
From 28th June the world ranking will be frozen and the list of qualified Olympic athletes will be formalised. The Olympic quotas are perfectly identical between men and women. There will be 176 men, 176 women, plus 14 host country places and 20 wild cards, to a total of 386 Olympic judo athletes. The first eighteen athletes of the world ranking will be automatically qualified, according to the rule of one athlete by National Olympic Committee, by weight category.
For the direct qualification, a list including 18 different NOCs will be prepared. If several athletes from the same country are included in the list of directly qualified athletes, it is up to the National Olympic Committee to choose which athlete will go to Tokyo, without any obligation to be the highest ranked athlete. According to the NOC choice (1 athlete / NOC), the list shifts to always keep a block of 18 names.
There is a second possibility of qualification, via the continental quota. Each continent has been allocated a quota. There can only be a maximum of one athlete per NOC who can qualify through continental qualification, across all weight categories and genders.
The system that determines the continental quotas is based on the first athletes of a continent present in the ranking (beyond the athletes appearing in the direct qualification list) and not preceded by a compatriot.
If a continent fails to use its full allocation, any remaining quota place will be allocated, according to the IJF World Ranking List, to the highest ranked athlete not yet qualified, irrespective of the continent, in the respective gender, respecting the maximum quota of one athlete per NOC per category.
Japan, as the organising country, has fourteen automatically qualified places, the list of which is already known.
If an allocated place is not confirmed on time or is refused by an NOC, it will be reallocated as follows:
• If the athlete qualified through direct qualification, the place will be reallocated to the next highest ranked athlete according to the IJF World Ranking List, in the same weight category and regardless of continent, respecting the maximum quota of one athlete per NOC and per weight.
• If the athlete has qualified through the Continental Qualification, the place will be reallocated to the next highest ranked athlete from that continent, according to the continental ranking, regardless of their weight category, while respecting the principles we have already covered:
- A maximum of one athlete per NOC can qualify through the continental qualification in all weight categories and in both sexes.
- The quotas in the male / female categories must be respected for each continent.
- If a continent does not use all its quota, the remaining places will be reallocated in accordance with the IJF world ranking to the highest ranked athlete, not yet qualified, in the corresponding male / female category, respecting the maximum quota of one athlete per NOC and per event.
In addition, twenty 'wild cards' (men and women combined) will be allocated by the Tripartite Commission (IJF, Local Organising Committee and IOC).
If the Tripartite Commission is unable to allocate a place by invitation, it will be reallocated in accordance with the IJF World Ranking List to the next highest ranked athlete, not yet qualified, regardless of their category, weight and gender, respecting the maximum quota of one athlete per NOC and per event.
The calculation of the points for the Olympic ranking is established according to the results obtained during the events of the World Judo Tour (Grand Prix, Grand Slam, Masters, World Championships) and continental events (Championships and Opens).
The five + one best results between the 25th May 2018 (GP China) and the 23rd May 2019 are therefore taken into account with a valuation of 50%. Valued at 100% are the five + one best results obtained between the 24th May 2019 (GP China) and 28th June 2021, after the World Championships.
The 2019 world championships are valued at 100%, Masters 2018 and Continentals 2018 are counted at 50% and Masters 2019 and 2021 are counted at 100%, while only the best performance between the 2020 continental championships and the 2021 edition will be retained.
So, things are simple for coaches around the world. They have to get their calculators out and that's what they've been doing for several months. Aside from the athletes who are already in the top 8 and can hope to be seeded, but above all who are guaranteed to participate in the Olympic Games, except for last minute unforeseen events and apart from those who are in the top 18, in which adjustments can still take place, things are still uncertain for the continental quotas and every point will count in a few weeks from now.
With all these considerations taken into account, it is not surprising that the turnout in the most recent grand slams and for the events still to come is high. 93 countries are present in Antalya. In some categories the last qualifying places will be snapped up for just a few points, points that can change an athlete's life.
For the first time in history, a team tournament will be organised during the Olympic Games. Here again the qualification rules are clearly defined. First of all, mixed teams can only be composed of athletes already qualified for the individual events. Then, all National Olympic Committees must have a complete team (i.e. having athletes able to compete in the -57kg, -70kg, + 70kg, -73kg, -90kg and + 90kg categories) can register for the mixed event.
So now, let's count, do some maths and enjoy the judo.
To find out more and discover the current standings among Olympic qualifiers, you can check here.
Individual event: https://www.ijf.org/wrl_olympic
Team event: https://www.ijf.org/wrl_olympic_teams