2020 Olympics To Lower Swimmer Quota By 22 Athletes

The International Olympic Committee made several sweeping announcements about the 2020 Tokyo Games this morning, among them some adjustments to athlete quotas in a number of sports designed to bring greater gender balance to the next Olympics.

Swimming will see its athletes quota drop by 22 athletes, according to the IOC press release. For the Rio Olympics, the athlete quota for pool swimming was 900, and the new Tokyo quota will be 878 – that’s 439 men and 439 women.

That figure is not to be confused with each nation’s maximum roster size, which has typically stood at 26 men and 26 women for pool swimming. There has been no indication that those numbers will change for Tokyo. The athlete quota is for overall athletes from all nations allowed entry into the Olympic Games, rather than the maximum number of athletes allowed for each individual country.

Based on the qualifying criteria for the 2016 Rio Olympics, the Olympic hopefuls affected will be those with FINA B cuts but not A cuts. Here’s a quick breakdown of Olympic selection procedures from Rio:

  1. Swimmers with a FINA A cut (up to 2 per event per country)
  2. Athletes in relays from qualifying countries
  3. Universality entrants: countries with no A or selected B cuts can enter one man and one woman. Countries with one man or one woman qualified can enter one swimmer in the other gender.
  4. Swimmers with a FINA B cut (up to one per country)

In other aquatic sports, water polo will see two more women’s teams added to competition. In Rio, 12 men’s teams and 8 women’s teams competed, but in Tokyo, there will be 12 men’s programs and 10 women’s. To counterbalance that with the overall athlete quota, the IOC has reduced roster sizes for each team, ultimately leading to a net reduction of 18 athletes in the sport’s Olympic quota.

Obviously, the biggest news from today’s IOC announcements is the addition of two distance events (the women’s 1500 and men’s 800 frees) and a mixed relay (the mixed 4×100 medley relay) to the Olympic swimming lineup. We covered that announcement in depth here.

The IOC calls these changes “a significant step towards achieving the 50 per cent gender balance at the Olympic Games in both athletes and events.”

Here’s a full look at the events being added or changed for the 2020 Olympics in all sports, and below that a look at the changes in athlete quotas for various sports. This is all courtesy of the IOC’s press release from this morning:

EVENTS – Additions unless specified
Sport Event #
Aquatics (Swimming) 800m (M) & 1500m (W) +2
4x100m Medley Mixed Relay +1
Archery Mixed Team Event +1
Athletics 4x400m Mixed Relay +1
Basketball 3×3 (M/W) +2
Boxing Transfer of two men’s events to two women’s events 0
Canoe Transfer of three men’s events to three women’s events 0
Cycling (BMX) BMX Freestyle Park (M/W) +2
Cycling (Track) Madison (M/W) +2
Fencing Team Events (M/W) +2
Judo Mixed Team Event +1
Rowing Transfer of one men’s event to one women’s event 0
Sailing Transfer of Mixed Multihull to Mixed Foiling Multihull 0
Shooting Transfer of three men’s events to mixed events 0
Table Tennis Mixed Doubles +1
Triathlon Mixed Team Relay +1
Weightlifting Reduction of one  men’s weight category -1
TOTAL (net) +15


Athletes – Additions, transfers and reductions
Athletes quotas
Sport Event #
Aquatics (Water Polo) Reduction in Water Polo team size, addition of two women’s Water Polo teams -18
Aquatics (Swimming) Reduction of 22 athletes -22
Athletics Reduction of 105 athletes -105
Basketball Inclusion of 3×3 with 8 teams for each gender, +64 athletes (32W/32M) +64
Boxing Transfer of 44 athletes from men to women 0
Canoe Transfer of 55 athletes to reach gender balance 0
Cycling (BMX Racing) Transfer of 8 athletes to reach gender balance 0
Cycling (MTB) Transfer of 8 athletes to reach gender balance in MTB, transfer of 4 male athletes to BMX Freestyle 0
Cycling (Road) Transfer of 14 men to BMX Freestyle 0
Judo Transfer of 38 athletes to reach gender balance 0
Rowing Reduction of 24 athletes and reach gender balance -24
Sailing Reduction of 30 athletes and reach gender balance -30
Shooting Reduction of 30 athletes and reach gender balance -30
Weightlifting Reduction of 64 athletes and reach gender balance -64
Wrestling Reduction of 56 athletes across all disciplines and gender balance in Freestyle Wrestling -56
TOTAL -285

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4 years ago

I’m thinkiing….by lowering the number by 22 I assume the people who will get squeezed out will be the ones with an Olympic standard time (OST). Swimmers with an OQT will be safe (2 per nation) as will relay only swimmers and swimmers from non traditional swimming countries.

Swimming fan
4 years ago

Any reasoning as to why 50 strokes didn’t get approved?

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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