The International Olympic Committee plans to reduce the overall athlete quota from about 11,000 to 10,500 for the 2024 Paris Olympics.
The IOC issued a press release today confirming its decision-making timeline – the IOC Executive Board will confirm the event programme and athlete quotas for the 2024 Olympics by December of 2020. The organization will work to fit new events into the already-existing athlete quotas for sports, and will plan to reduce the total number of athletes by almost 500 from the originally-planned 2020 Olympics.
Inside the Games reports that the Olympic charter already lists 10,500 athletes at the maximum, but that the IOC had acknowledged it was going to exceed the maximum for the 2020 Olympics. About 11,000 athletes were set to compete in Tokyo in 2020, prior to the one-year postponement due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Here’s a look at the rough participant numbers for the past few Summer Olympics:
- 2016: 11,238
- 2012: 10,768
- 2008: 10,942
- 2004: 10,625
- 2000: 10.651
- 1996: 10,318
- 1992: 9,356
- 1988: 8,391
- 1984: 6,829
The IOC has been operating under the phrase “the New Norm,” working to reduce the cost and complexity of hosting the Olympics. That’s after multiple cities have voted down or backed out of bids to host the Olympics in recent years. The IOC says it plans to only add new events “if there are existing venues,” and prioritizing new Olympic events that “accommodate athletes within the sport’s existing quota allocation.”
For swimming, that could signal an opportunity to add more events, as the IOC appears more likely to add events to existing sports than to add entirely new sports to the Olympic lineup. On the other hand, any new events added should not be expected to add any additional roster spots for swimming teams.
The 2020 Olympics were set to debut three new swimming events: the women’s 1500 free, men’s 800 free, and the mixed 4×100 medley relay.
The full IOC press release is below:
The International Olympic Committee (IOC)’s Executive Board (EB) agreed during a virtual meeting today to maintain the previously set deadline of December 2020 to confirm the event programme and athlete quotas for the Olympic Games Paris 2024, including consideration of the events in the four additional sports proposed by the Organising Committee. This decision is based on the recommendation of the Olympic Programme Commission (OPC) after receiving feedback from the athletes, International Sports Federations (IFs), National Olympic Committees (NOCs) and Paris 2024.
The IOC EB underlined that the decision should be based on the following previously established key principles:
– Reducing the overall athlete quota (including for all new sports) to 10,500;
– Achieving gender equal participation across the Olympic Games at event and discipline level where possible;
– Prioritising new events that accommodate athletes within the sport’s existing quota allocation; and
– New events only if there are existing venues.
“The exceptional situation caused by COVID-19 requires exceptional measures. Therefore, any decision concerning the event programme for Paris 2024 should reflect Olympic Agenda 2020, including a new phase of the ‘New Norm’. The IOC EB has reiterated the vital importance of reducing the cost and complexity of hosting the Olympic Games, particularly concerning venue requirements,” said IOC President Thomas Bach. “For the event programme, we have maintained the December 2020 deadline, even though new sports can now not be tested on the Olympic stage, but we need to give certainty to the concerned athletes, their NOCs and Federations and the Organising Committee.
With the confirmation of the original deadline, December’s IOC EB meeting will now see a decision made on requests from 20 of the 27 Olympic International Federations for changes to the Paris 2024 event programme.
In addition, confirmation of the inclusion of the four additional sports proposed by the Paris 2024 Organising Committee – breaking, skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing – will also be determined at December’s meeting, having provisionally been approved at the IOC Session in June 2019.
The timeline was originally approved by the IOC EB in June 2017. It aligned with the original dates for Tokyo 2020, and was compliant with Rule 45 of the Olympic Charter. However, due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent postponement of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 to 2021, it was necessary for the OPC to review the timeline in case changes needed to be made. The review considered the impact on and feedback from key stakeholders, including the Paris 2024 Organising Committee, IFs, NOCs and, of course, the athletes.
Following this feedback, the OPC decided to propose to the IOC EB that the original deadline be maintained in order to provide certainty to all the involved parties, so that they could plan accordingly. This will help athletes to prepare and secure funding from the appropriate bodies, while Paris 2024, IFs and NOCs will be able to advance with their venue, financial, and logistical planning.
The dates for the IOC EB meeting in December 2020 will be confirmed within the coming months.