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Paris 2024 Olympic Games: Africa, Oceania lose out in weightlifting qualifier

Africa, Oceania miss out in the 2024 Paris weightlifting qualifier. Photo: Getty Images
  • According to the qualifying rankings for Tokyo 2020, Africa and Oceania will suffer the most under the new qualification method
  • If the Paris system had been applied to Tokyo, Africa would not have been represented in six categories, and Oceania would have been left out
  • Weightlifting featured 196 in Tokyo last year, but only 120 will compete in Paris, possibly its final appearance as an Olympic discipline
  • the qualification system for Paris 2024 appears to be friendly for North Korea

TheInternational Weightlifting Federation (IWF) has put quality before quantity in its qualification system for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

It has also devised a system that, unlike qualifying for Tokyo, can be exploited by cheats because it allows athletes to “hideaway for a year”.

Photo: Inside the Game

One of the delegates at an IWF session in Lausanne over the weekend labelled it “the North Korean qualification method.”

Any protests will be ignored because the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has authorised the qualification procedure, which has already made the paper available on its website.

The IWF has issued the qualification system paper to member federations but has made no public remark on its website. It is listed under the Olympic Games inclusion on the calendar of events for 2024.

There were spots for all Continental Federations in all weight categories at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. However, that strategy has been abandoned due to a significant reduction in quota.

Weightlifting featured 260 participants in Rio 2016 and 196 in Tokyo last year, but only 120 will compete in Paris, possibly its final appearance as an Olympic discipline.

According to the qualifying rankings for Tokyo 2020, Africa and Oceania will suffer the most under the new qualification method.

On past results, it looks possible that no athletes from sub-Saharan Africa will qualify directly for Paris, and the Pacific Islands will be challenged too.

There are fewer weight divisions (10 vs 14 in Tokyo) in Paris, each with 12 participants.

Africa, Oceania suffer most in the new weightlifting qualifying system. Photo: CBS

The maximum team size has been reduced from eight to six, including three men and three women and the body weights.

Although it is impossible to compare apples to apples, if the Paris system had been applied to Tokyo, Africa would not have been represented in six categories, and Oceania would have been left out.

Weightlifting featured 260 participants in Rio 2016 and 196 in Tokyo last year, but only 120 will compete in Paris, possibly its final appearance as an Olympic discipline.

According to the qualifying rankings for Tokyo 2020, Africa and Oceania will suffer the most under the new qualification method.

There are fewer weight divisions (10 vs 14 in Tokyo) in Paris, each with 12 participants.

The maximum team size has been reduced from eight to six, including three men and three women and the body weights.

Although it is impossible to compare like to like, if the Paris system had been applied to Tokyo, Africa would not have been represented in six categories, and Oceania would have been left out.

The best ten athletes in the standings will qualify in all weight categories, but only one athlete per nation. The remaining 20 spots are filled by ten continental allocations, four places for the host nation, and six tripartite invitations.

If no Continental Federations are represented in the top 10, the highest-placed athlete from any of them – but not all – will qualify.

This means that, theoretically, any particular weight category may have only two continents represented if, for example, the top 10 in the rankings are all from Asia and the highest-ranking non-Asian is from Europe.

A lifter from either Africa or Oceania finished last of those who made a total in nine weight categories, though the results were affected by the absence of Samoa, whose team was forced to stay at home due to COVID-related travel restrictions.

 Why the qualification system for Paris 2024 has been dubbed as friendly for North Korea

There is criticism that the system permits athletes to miss one of the two mandatory events if they are physically unable to attend due to a significant injury or travel limitations beyond their control.

North Korean Weightlifter, the new Weightlifting qualifying system appears to favor North Korea. Photo: CBS

An independent panel will decide any allegation of “really exceptional circumstances”.

The qualifying period runs from August 1 this year until April 28 2024, 21 months.

From August, the International Testing Agency (ITA), which oversees all anti-doping processes for the IWF, will conduct “strong” testing missions in and out of competition, focusing on nations with a history of doping violations.

“I’m sure North Korea will love it,” said the delegate in Lausanne, referring to the fact that no North Koreans have ever undergone out-of-competition testing because foreign testing missions cannot get into the country.

“If they choose not to compete until 2023, which they can do, they can hide away and do as they please without fear of being tested.

“What is worrying is that anybody else can do the same – I’m surprised the IOC has approved it.”

 North Korea withdrew from the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympics due to COVID-19 fears, and because out-of-competition testing has never taken place there.

Therefore none of its athletes has been available for testing in over two and a half years – and that might increase to three and a half years.

The IOC appears to have relaxed its position on doping in the past.

 

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