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World Athletics suspends Olympic qualification until December 2020

Race results won't count towards Olympic qualification until December, which includes the fall marathon season

On Tuesday morning, World Athletics announced a suspension of Olympic qualification until December 1, 2020, meaning that from April 6 through November 30, an athlete’s results won’t count toward Olympic qualification. The world ranking system (another way to qualify for the Games) will also be frozen during this period. The one exception to this rule is world records, which can be run provided they’re ratifiable.

Photo: Twitter/Saudi24N

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What this means for runners

This is actually a very democratic play by World Athletics. There are so many athletes across the world with limited or no training facilities, while a select few have been able to come up with creative solutions to get their training done. A runner’s ability to train right now is largely determined by location.

As for the world rankings, it’ll be like the coming eight months didn’t exist. They’ll be frozen in time until December. By eliminating qualification opportunities for the coming eight months, WA has levelled the playing field. This will give athletes who’ve found themselves in worst-case scenarios time to get back to Olympic-level fitness, and athletes who have access to facilities will finally see a light at the end of the tunnel while their season is in limbo. Every runner now has a new target date: December 1.

Photo: updated Olympic qualification period

What about the fall marathons?

For track runners, a summer season was already looking unlikely. While there was the possibility of a few late-August and early-September races, there were very few races officially on the calendar.

However, marathoners were in a different position. With the biggest three months of road racing in history ahead of us in the fall, runners were going to have more start-line possibilities than they knew what to do with. While Olympic hopefuls can still run those races and have a shot at earning prize money, they won’t have a shot at Olympic qualification this fall. Every fall weekend from September through November has about 20 road races to run, but none of the results will count.

Marathoners will now need to decide what’s more important to them: making some money in the fall or shooting to qualify through the winter at a marathon like Houston (where Canadians have historically had success). The other option is to plan for a spring marathon in 2021, but depending on timing, that makes it difficult to build again for an Olympic competition in July.

Trevor Hofbauer
Photo: Matt Stetson

What about runners who already qualified?

The IOC announced two weeks ago that all athletes who earned a spot at the Tokyo 202(1) Games, will still have that spot when the Olympics run next year. This includes Canadian marathoners Dayna Pidhoresky and Trevor Hofbauer. Both runners satisfied Athletics Canada’s criteria last fall at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, where they won the Canadian Championships and ran under the Olympic standard (2:29:30 for men and 2:11:30 for women).

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