Update: since original posting, our readers have identified a 3rd swimmer that shouldn’t qualify by the same standards as below – 13-year old Ana Dascal from Romania. Original article is below.
The initial round of entry lists for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games had several errors, including the omission of medal contender Alia Atkinson (which has already been corrected).
The ones that swimmers worldwide, already largely dissatisfied with the Universality invite system, will take the most exception to, however, is that at least two swimmers who were entered as Universality swimmers don’t meet the standards for Universality.
Ei Ei Thet from Myanmar and Naomy Hope Grand Pierre from Haiti were both entered under the FINA and IOC policies to encourage participation in the Olympics from a greater number of countries who are well outside of the medals tables. However, neither of them meet one specific standard from the FINA-released qualifications for universality swimmers:
Only athletes who have participated in the 16th FINA World Championships in Kazan in 2015 and who are approved by FINA to compete are eligible for Universality Places.
Neither Thet nor Grand Pierre raced at last year’s World Championships (complete results from which are here), which means that they shouldn’t be eligible to compete at this year’s Olympic Games.
When contacted this morning about the discrepancy, FINA’s explanation is that “these entries were made through the IOC Wild Card.”
A further search on the IOC Wild Card program turned up empty, aside from “Wild Card” being used as a colloquial description of the previously-described Universality program, which, again, these two swimmers didn’t meet the standards to qualify for.
We have reached out to the IOC to see if there is some alternative “wild card” program, aside from Universality, that these two swimmers might have been selected under.
At last year’s World Championships, FINA accepted several entries from Mexico with falsified entry times from swimmers who otherwise shouldn’t have been eligible for the meet. While FINA brushed aside that issue, the failure to follow the rules for the Olympics could result in a bigger headache for the world governing body for swimming.
Unlike the World Championships, which has no cap on “total swimmers,” the Olympics will only take 900 swimmers from A qualifiers, relay only swimmers, Universality swimmers (maximum 1 male and 1 female per country), and then B qualifiers, in that order (read more about the qualification system here). What this means is that by allowing ineligible entries, FINA has bumped other swimmers who should have qualified for the Olympics, which could be a legally actionable offense for swimmers with “B” standards who didn’t earn invites to the Olympics.
We are still seeking clarity as to whether there is truly some alternative route by which these swimmers could have qualified, beyond the universality selection processes, and will provide updates to our readers as they become available.