Triathlon Magazine Canada
Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics
OVERSEAS FANS AREN’T welcome. Public opinion surveys routinely show that most Japanese residents want the Olympic Games cancelled or postponed again. Costs for the Games have ballooned to over US$15 billion, with government estimates predicting the true cost could be over US$25 billion. In February, the president of the Tokyo organizing committee, Yoshiro Mori, resigned after making sexist remarks during a meeting, with another director resigning in March for making demeaning remarks about a female celebrity. With vaccination rollout even slower than here in Canada, most of the Japanese public won’t receive a jab before the Games open on July 23. Medical experts are predicting that COVID-19 cases could peak in Japan in July, around the time when the Games are slated to start, which is why they say the Olympics shouldn’t go ahead. North Korea seems to agree – it pulled out of the Tokyo Games, citing fears about the COVID-19 pandemic.
So, there’s no way the postponed 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games will happen, right? Think again. As we go to print all signs seem to indicate the Games will go on – the International Olympic Committee and event organizers appear bound and determined to host this years Games, even if they are only to be witnessed on television. That means 11,000 athletes from roughly 200 countries will arrive in Japan for the Olympics between July 23 and Aug. 8, and the Paralympics from Aug. 24 to Sept. 5.
While some countries have confirmed at least some of their team members (see sidebar), Canada has not officially named any of its team members. Canadian triathletes and Para triathletes will have their chance to qualify for Tokyo starting on May 1. The Olympic qualification period will stay open until June 21, while the Paralympic qualification period will go until July 15. There will be six events that triathletes will be able to compete in during the qualification period – World Triathlon Championship Series Yokohama and Leeds, along with World Triathlon Cups in
Osaka, Lisbon, Arzachena and Huatulco. There will also be Continental Championships and Mixed Relay Olympic Qualification events during the qualification window.
Para athletes will have the opportunity to compete in at least four events including World Triathlon Para Series races in Yokohama and Leeds, along with World Triathlon Para Cups in Besancon and A Coruna and Continental Championship events.
In terms of qualifying, each country can qualify a maximum of three athletes per gender for triathlon. Those spots can be secured through either individual rankings or the relay rankings. Of the 55 spots for men and women, 51 are determined by the rankings. (Two spots go to the host country, Japan, and two others are set aside as invitations for developing nations.) Of those 51 spots, 26 are determined by individual rankings – the top 26 athletes secure a spot for their country. (The national governing body decides who will compete – a ranking doesn’t automatically qualify an athlete.) From there on in the process becomes complicated – the next five spots are given to the highest ranked country without an athlete in the top 26, with one spot available for each continent.
The top seven teams in the relay standings are given two spots – one male, one female. The remaining six spots will be decided in a race where any country that hasn’t qualified a relay team can compete, with the top three teams earning a spot at the Olympics. (That’s the “Mixed Relay Qualifications Events” referred to above.)
There will be a total of 80 Para athletes at the Parlympics, with a maximum of two athletes per country in each of the four medal events.
The Olympic standings were frozen last March because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is why we’re likely to see a flurry of activity when qualification opens up again in May.
In terms of the relay rankings, Canada currently sits in 11th place – France, Australia and the U.S. lead the way.
The men’s Olympic rankings are led by Mario Mola, with Canada’s Tyler Mislawchuk currently in fifth. Matthew Sharpe sits at 41st in the standings, with Alexis Lepage, who has been a regular on the Canadian relay team, at 86th.
Katie Zaferes leads the women’s rankings with Canada’s Joanna Brown in
22nd. 2016 Olympian Amelie Kretz sits at 87th, with Dominika Jamnicky at 138th. Desirae Ridenour has been a regular on the relay team – she’s currently 181st in the Olympic rankings.
In terms of Para competitors, 2016 Rio silver medalist Stefan Daniel leads the PTS5 category and should be a shoe in to get to Tokyo again. Jon Dunkerly sits at
17th in the PTVI standings, putting him very much in the running for a spot. Jessica Tuomela is currently ranked third in the PTVI category, which should put her on the start line in Tokyo, too. Kamyle Frenette is in fourth in the PTS5 category, while Lyn-Marie Bilodeau is currently 12th in the PTS2 standings.
All of which means we’ll have to hurry up and wait to figure out who we’ll see wearing the Canadian uniform in Tokyo.