FINA Grants Additional Open Water Marathon Swim Qualifying Spot for Olympics

Updated with FINA statement.

FINA has allowed a 26th male swimmer, Kazakhstan’s Vitaly Khudyakov, to enter the open water marathon 10km swim at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Khudyakov appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport that he qualified via winning the 10km race at the 2019 Asian Open Water Swimming Championships, which at the time was identified as a qualifying event for the Olympic Games. He flew to Tokyo to appear in-person at the CAS ad hoc tribunal. After the case was heard, however, CAS announced that the case had been “resolve amicably” without a ruling.

This isn’t Khudyakov’s first Olympic controversy: at the 2016 Games, he was red-flagged and removed from the race for unsporsmanlike conduct.

In short, FINA decided to drop the case and allow Khudyakov to race even though he didn’t qualify via the official FINA procedures.

FINA’s statement:

Mr. Khudyakov filed a claim against FINA with the ad hoc Division of the Court of Arbitration for Sport seeking entry into the Tokyo Olympic Games on the basis that he qualified through the 9th Asian Open Water Swimming Championships. Mr. Khudyakov’s belief was based on representations made by the FINA Office in 2019 and early 2020 regarding the qualification status of the event. FINA disputes that this event was a qualification event for the Tokyo Olympic Games. However, after consultation with the IOC and on an exceptional basis, FINA agreed to enter Mr. Khudyakov in the Marathon Swimming event at the Tokyo Olympic Games.

FINA-Published Olympic Qualifying Procedures, Open Water (per gender):

  1. Top 10 finishers at the World Championships automatically qualify
  2. Top 9 finishers in the women’s and men’s events at the Marathon Swim Olympic Qualifier (each country, not already qualified, can enter 2 swimmers in this race, but only 1 of those swimmers can qualify for Tokyo via the marathon swim Olympic qualifier)
  3. One representative from each FINA continent (Africa, Americas, Asia, Europe, Oceania)
  4. One representative from the host nation if not already qualified by other means
    1. If the host is already qualified, this final spot gets re-allocated into the Marathon Swim Olympic Qualifier in item #2 (the host was already qualified, so this spot was reallocated).

Khudyakov was entered to race at the Olympic swim qualifier in June, but ultimately did not start that race, apparently counting on his CAS appeal instead.

Per the CAS, about the resolution:

Vitaliy Khudyakov, a marathon swimmer from the Republic of Kazakhstan, had filed an application with the CAS Ad hoc Division seeking a ruling that he be entitled to compete in the marathon swimming event at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. In 2019, Vitaliy Khudyakov participated in the marathon swimming event at the 9th Asian Open Water Swimming Championships (19- 21 April 2019), which was identified at that time as a qualifying event for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, achieving the gold medal and thus the Olympic qualification. However, on 16 July 2021, FINA informed the Swimming Federation of the Republic of Kazakhstan that the 9th Asian Open Water Swimming Championships was not a Qualification Event for the Tokyo Games 2020 as they were not confirmed as such in the official qualification pathway set out in FINA bylaw BL 9.3.7.6.3 and that as a consequence, Vitaliy Khudyakov was initially not supposed to take part in the Tokyo Games 2020.

FINA has not responded to a request for why an extra spot was granted in this case – that spot would have had to have been approved by the IOC as well. FINA and the IOC have taken a hard line in several other controversial Olympic qualifying decisions, including the case of Siphiwe Baleka attempting to qualify for Guinea-Bissau at 50 years old. FINA has sent a letter to at least one federation, that made a mistake in its Universality selection, saying that they requested extra spots to correct the error, but that was rejected as well.

FINA hasn’t responded to a request as to why they have relented in this case and granted the extra spot.

Khudyakov didn’t swim the 10km race at the 2019 World Championships. He finished 31st in the 5km race and 16th in the 25km race at those World Championships. Neither of those events are Olympic distances.

MEN (25)
Florian WELLBROCK (GER) – 1st Gwangju 2019
Marc-Antoine OLIVIER (FRA) – 2nd Gwangju 2019
Rob MUFFELS (GER) – 3rd Gwangju 2019
Kristof RASOVSZKY (HUN) – 4th Gwangju 2019
Jordan WILIMOVSKY (USA) – 5th Gwangju 2019
Gregorio PALTRINIERI (ITA) – 6th Gwangju 2019
Ferry WEERTMAN (NED) – 7th Gwangju 2019
Alberto MARTINEZ (ESP) – 8th Gwangju 2019
Mario SANZULLO (ITA) – 9th Gwangju 2019
David AUBRY (FRA) – 10th Gwangju 2019
Hector PARDOE (GBR) – 1st FINA Olympic Marathon Swim Qualifier
Athanasios KYNIGAKIS (GRE) – 2nd FINA Olympic Marathon Swim Qualifier
Matan RODITI (ISR) – 4th FINA Olympic Marathon Swim Qualifier
Kai Graeme EDWARDS (AUS) – 5th FINA Olympic Marathon Swim Qualifier
Taishin MINAMIDE (JPN) – 6th FINA Olympic Marathon Swim Qualifier
Tiago CAMPOS (POR) – 7th FINA Olympic Marathon Swim Qualifier
Kirill ABROSIMOV (RUS) – 8th FINA Olympic Marathon Swim Qualifier
David FARINANGO (ECU) – 9th FINA Olympic Marathon Swim Qualifier
Oussama MELLOULI (TUN) – 10th FINA Olympic Marathon Swim Qualifier
Michael McGLYNN (RSA) – 11th FINA Olympic Marathon Swim Qualifier
Daniel DELGADILLO (MEX) – 12th FINA Olympic Marathon Swim Qualifier
Matej KOZUBEK (CZE)  – Europe slot – 13th FINA Olympic Marathon Swim Qualifier
Hau-Li FAN (CAN) – America slot – 18th FINA Olympic Marathon Swim Qualifier
Philip SEIDLER (NAM) – Africa slot – 25th FINA Olympic Marathon Swim Qualifier
William Yan THORLEY (HKG) – Asia slot – 26th FINA Olympic Marathon Swim Qualifier
Vitaly KHUDYAKOV (KAZ) – Special FINA Quota Spot

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Aquatics
1 month ago

Pretty sure he was the swimmer disqualified during the 10K in Rio.

The Original Tim
1 month ago

Man, Vitaly gets a spot but Cara doesn’t? What kinda malarkey is this?!?!

Last edited 1 month ago by The Original Tim
DMSWIM
Reply to  The Original Tim
1 month ago

Best comment of the day.

NOT the frontman of Metallica
1 month ago

This is exactly what we need, more controversies and confusion around the qualifying system in OW.
So to summarize these are the ways to qualify:

1. Top 10 at worlds prior to olympics
2. Top 9 in olympic qualifier
3. Continental spot
4. Host Nation
5. Lawyer up!

The unoriginal Tim
1 month ago

Should only be 25 swimmers as Mellouli said he isn’t goning to show up

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Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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