17 June 2021
World Rowing announced the other day that a record number of nations have qualified to go to the Olympic rowing in Tokyo, which starts on 23 July.
Eighty countries are heading to the Tokyo Games rowing, held on Tokyo’s Sea Forest Waterway, which is an increase on the Rio 2016 Olympic Games by 11 nations.
Nine countries will be competing in Olympic rowing for the first time: Ivory Coast, Benin, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, Namibia, Morocco, Uganda, Sudan and Saudi Arabia.
The number of countries that went for Olympic qualification was 106. This was down on 2016 due to travel difficulties caused by the global pandemic. Rio 2016 had the greatest number of nations ever going for Olympic qualification with a total of 116.
The series of qualification events for this Olympic cycle came with the added challenge of the global outbreak of the Coronavirus. After successfully getting underway at the 2019 World Rowing Championships, the majority of qualification spots were allocated by September 2019. The first continental qualification event then took place in October 2019 with the African Olympic and Paralympic Qualification Regatta in Tunis, Tunisia.
Then the pandemic halted all qualification regattas for a year. The Americas Olympic and Paralympic Qualification Regatta finally took place at the start of March 2021 with the Rio 2016 Olympic rowing regatta course serving as the venue. Next came the European Olympic and Paralympic Qualification Regatta at the start of April in Varese, Italy. This was followed by the Asia and Oceania Olympic and Paralympic Qualification Regatta hosted in May 2021 by Japan using the venue for the Tokyo Olympic rowing regatta.
The Final Olympic Qualification Regatta rounded out the series of qualification events which took place in mid-May on the Rotsee in Lucerne, Switzerland.
All of the regattas followed strict Covid-19 prevention plans to ensure the safety of all participants, athletes, organisers and support staff.
‘’All stakeholders did their best to give our athletes the opportunity to reach their Olympic dream on the water, despite the adverse pandemic context, in a safe environment,” said Jean-Christophe Rolland, president of World Rowing. “I am truly grateful to all the contributors, the organising committees, the local authorities for their commitment to deliver the events.’’
For the Tokyo Olympic Games, the number of qualification spots has gender equality for the first time with spots available for 263 athletes of each gender. There is also a list of criteria that must be followed in selecting the final boats. The places must then be approved by every National Olympic Committee (NOC) involved. Thus, following the final qualification regatta an NOC acceptance process was observed.
The Tokyo Paralympic Games qualification process will be completed and announced in mid-July. Four Bipartite quota places are still to be decided.
The next deadline is for NOC’s to enter their selected athletes by 5 July 2021 and this will be followed up by an official announcement of the entries by World Rowing.
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