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How delay impacts Olympic selection

Published on March 29th, 2020

by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt Sailing News
With the decision now made to postpone the 2020 Summer Olympics, the question remained, “Who will compete in 2021?”

For Sailing, with each of the ten events to have only one entry per nation, World Sailing choreographs a qualification event calendar during the quadrennial for nations to earn entry. However, after a nation qualifies, they create a process to select their representative.

The sailor that qualifies their nation is not necessarily the same who will be competing in the Olympics.

Success at the Olympics is about selecting the athletes that are peaking at the right time, and with many nations having completed their selection process for Tokyo 2020, how do these sailors now remain in peak condition for the next year?

Or, will nations now reconsider who has been selected?

Regarding whether their selection process would be changed, US Sailing was in communication with United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee and would be following the guidance that comes from them.

The US Sailing Athlete Selection Procedures document does include the disclaimer:

“The selection criteria are based on the latest information available to US Sailing. However, the selections are always subject to unforeseen, intervening circumstances, and realistically may not have accounted for every possible contingency.”

Unforeseen…like a coronavirus pandemic?

The Los Angeles Times reported how the 33 international federations governing each sport had reached an agreement with the International Olympic Committee to honor all previous qualifications when the Games finally take place.

While that might mean athletes for some sports that permit multiple nations to compete, for Sailing it refers only to what nations have qualified. It is still up to those nations who they select as their representative.

Because the US system for Olympic qualification is so rigid, requiring total clarity and objectivity, I would be surprised if it could be altered due to this postponement. But as I say that, I also believe the US Sailing Team would be improved if the selection procedures were to continue for the seven events which had completed their trials.

That may come as a massive blow to the USA sailors who had punched their ticket in the Laser, Radial, 49er, 49erFX, Nacra 17, and RS:X Men and Women, but adversity is becoming the new reality, and re-inserting competition will improve the squad. Standing by for details.

Olympic Sailing Program
Men’s One Person Dinghy – Laser
Women’s One Person Dinghy – Laser Radial
Men’s Two Person Dinghy – 470
Women’s Two Person Dinghy – 470
Men’s Skiff – 49er
Women’s Skiff – 49erFx
Men’s One Person Dinghy Heavy – Finn
Men’s Windsurfing – RS:X
Women’s Windsurfing – RS:X
Mixed Multihull – Nacra 17

Tokyo 2020 Olympic schedule: July 24 – Aug 9 (POSTPONED)
Sailing schedule: July 26 – Aug 6 (POSTPONED)

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