World Athletics issue new pathway to Tokyo Olympics

International Association of Athletics Federations president Sebastian Coe attends a presser following a meeting of the body's council in Doha ahead of the World Championships on September 23, 2019. PHOTO | STRINGER |

The qualifying period for track and field events for the Tokyo 2021 Olympic Games will end on June 29, next year just 23 days before the start of the world’s biggest sporting bonanza.

However, World Athletics – that unveiled its four-year strategic plan and Olympic qualifying process- disclosed marathon and 50km race walk entry period will elapse on May 31, 2021.

With the reopening of its headquarters this week, World Athletics indicated in a statement that it had the opportunity to discuss with its 214 member federations its new strategic plan to drive growth.

The statement explained that the virtual discussion also centred on latest medical advice on the coronavirus pandemic, particularly as it impacts on athletes returning to training and competition, and the updated qualifying process for Tokyo Olympics Summer Games.


The members also talked about the direction athletics will take over the next four years and the short-term challenges and opportunities the sport has as the world begins to emerge from lockdown.

World Athletics president Sebastian Coe, who chaired the meetings, said it was important to communicate regularly with the member federations in this unprecedented situation and to give direction for the future.

“Our head office may have been closed for 11 weeks but we have not been idle,” Coe said. “We have used that time to continue to develop our strategy to grow athletics.”

In marathon and 50km race walk, the qualifying period that covers 21 months started on January 1, 2019 and ended April 5, 2020. The period resumes December 1, 2020 to May 31, 2021.


The period for track events featuring 10,000m, 20km race walk, combined events and relay started January 1, 2019 ending on April 5, 2020. The period resumes on December 1, 2020 to June 29, 2021.

All other track and field events period started on May 1, 2019 ending April 5, 2020 before resuming December 1 this year to elapse on June 29, 2021.

However, World Athletics noted that all the top 10 finishers in the men’s marathon and in the women’s marathon at the 2019 Doha World Athletics Championships have qualified automatically for the Tokyo Summer Games.

Also to gain automatic qualification in marathon are top five finishers at the World Athletics gold label marathons and the top 10 finishers at the Marathon Major Series (Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago and New York) held during the qualification period from January 1, 2019 to April 5, 2020.

The top 10 finishers at the platinum label marathons and the winners of the gold label marathons held during the period from December 1, 2020 to May 31, 2021 will also gain direct entry to the Games.

The top eight nations at the 2019 Doha World Championships gain direct entry to the Tokyo Games alongside those that that will finish in top eight at Silesia 2021 World Athletics Relays.
World Athletics will also consider world ranking in all the events across the qualifying periods.