FINA Proposes Event Additions For Tokyo 2020

by Luke Ryan 98

April 10th, 2017 International, News, Tokyo 2020

FINA has recently announced a proposal that could bring big changes to swimming in the future on the international stage.

According to NBC Sports, FINA has reportedly proposed adding a men’s 800 meter freestyle race as well as a women’s 1500 meter race to the Olympic program. The full list of events that would be added would be added for Tokyo in 2020:

  • Men’s 800m Freestyle
  • Women’s 1500m Freestyle
  • Mixed 400 Medley Relay
  • Mixed 400 Freestyle Relay
  • 50s in each stroke for both men and women

These proposed changes would create substantially more opportunities for swimmers like Katie Ledecky and Ryan Murphy to cement their legacies in the realm of swimming. For Ledecky, adding the women’s 1500, an event where she would be a virtual lock, would allow her to climb ever closer to Phelps’ record of 28 Olympic Medals. Adding 50 meter stroke events would allow a more specialized swimmer like Murphy, to excel in three individuals rather than just two.

Along with American swimmers, international swimmers like Cesar Cielo could benefit greatly from these changes. Cielo, who didn’t make the Brazilian Olympic Team in 2016 would have been a likely favorite in the 50 meter butterfly. Adam Peaty, the world record holder in the 50 and 100 breaststroke events is also known for his incredible speed. The addition of the 50 breaststroke event would create an immediate opportunity for Peaty to rack up addition international medals.

In addition to the addition of races in the swimming event in Tokyo, FINA has proposed additions to a number of other aquatic events. The full list of changes can be found below:

  • Adjust the number of divers competing from 136 to 160 and go from 8 teams competing in finals of synchronized diving to 12
  • Include High diving in the 2020 Olympics: Men jump from 27 meters and women from 20 meters
  • Allow four additional teams to qualify for women’s water polo, but in doing so each team, both men and women, must decrease their team size from 13 to 11
  • Add 10 swimmers to the open water events to go from 25 to 35 for both men and women
  • Increase the number of synchronized swim teams to 12 from 8

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Will they have separate qualifying times for the 50s, or will you have to qualify in the 100 of the event to make the 50?

Hswimmer – best guess, and based on every other meet, separate qualifying times. If qualifying was done based on just qualifying in the 100, it would be a much harder sell for FINA to the IOC that you weren’t just giving the same 18 swimmers another set of medals.

My hunch is that there’s a chance at the 800 and 1500…50s probably aren’t going to happen.


Love the idea for the distance events and 50s- ridiculous they aren’t already part of the program- but a little hesitant to support the mixed relays; seems like an unnecessary (and not very exciting) pressure on the athletes with schedules that are already pretty full!


Agree. I don’t know that mixed relays would be taken all that seriously, and some of the athletes that already have multiple individual events and relays probably aren’t looking to make their program even tougher.


Don’t know why you are being downvoted you are right, say someone like Adrian, that would suck to have to swim the 50 free, 100 free, 4×100 free, 4×100 medley relay and then the mixed medley. And they would likely put the mixed medley on the same day as another relay for the sake of time.


I think they SHOULD have Mixed Medley Relays, but only teams that did not qualify for both the Men’s and Women’s 4×100 Freestyle Relay or 4×100 Medley Relay should be able to compete. In other words, it should be an opportunity for smaller teams to put together relays and compete for medals. If they did it that way, the Olympic experience of athletes from New Zealand or Singapore or Belgium, for example, might be more enjoyable. It shouldn’t just be another chance for the USA or Australia to add to their medal hauls!


Why not just have one big massive podium and play a mashup of all national anthems for each country represented in a given event all in one song?


Very risky move on FINA’s part – there has been much grumbling already about the number of swimming events and medals. If the Olympic Family really takes note, there is a grave risk of having events cut rather than added. A safer move in my estimation would have been a simple swap of W800 for W1500, and leave it at that. Put all the events you want at the World Championships, but I even heard rumors of the IOC at one time wanting to cut down to 1 distance per stroke (ie only have the 100 Fly/Bk/Br) and trim the freestyle program as well.

Will be interesting to see where this goes.


Was it 8 or 12 years ago IOC cut the number of participants for aquatics from 1200-1400 to a suggested 800-900 or is my memory wrong? This proposal would probably put the number way above that 1200-1400 or maybe the qualifying times would have to become much harder? If someone have more exact number please post those.


That’s what I thought too, so I was super surprised when I saw this article.

I wonder if this is FINA’s way of negotiating.
FINA: Hey we want to add 10 events
IOC: No, we actually wanted you to reduce events
FINA: Okay, let’s meet half-way and keep the same
# we currently have, but swap the 800 for 1500.
IOC: Fine..


Slightly off-topic, but if the IOC wants to drop some events, why not do it in sports that hardly anyone watches, instead of swimming, which is the second most poppular Summer Olympics sport (second only to track and field). For example, do we really need so many shooting events, like the machine pistol for example?


I think it’s to make gold medals comparable across all sports. When the Phelps vs. Usain Bolt debates sparked up, all the Phelps fans pointed to how many medals he has. While the Bolt fans complained that in Track there is mainly 2 running events (regular & hurdles). In swimming there’s 5 types of events (free, back, breast, fly, and IM). While I totally get those 5 swimming strokes are all completely different, if you’re the GOAT it’s possible to win medals in multiple types of events in Phelps case it was Free, Fly, and IM (total of 3). Bolt can’t even do that and I don’t think Bolt even does hurdles? I don’t think you’ll ever get the medal… Read more »

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