Alia Mohammad Saeed. Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

Dubai: The UAE hopes to fully benefit from the latest decision taken by World Athletics following the suspension of Olympic qualifying period until December 1.

Earlier in the week, the world governing body for athletics announced that the qualification period for the now postponed 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games has been suspended effective from April 6 until November 30. The decision was taken at a meeting of World Athletics in consultation with its Athletes’ Commission, Area Presidents and the Council.

As of now, two judokas - Ivan Remarenco and Victor Scvortov – have assured themselves a place in Tokyo on behalf of the UAE. Scvortov will be competing in the men’s 73kg category, while Remarenco will be in the men’s -100kg category.

During the next eight months – and as and when any international athletics competition is held during this period – the results achieved will not be considered for Tokyo 2020 entry standards or world rankings. The results, however, will be recorded for statistical purposes, including for world records, but they will not be used to establish an athlete’s qualification status for the Games.

“This is the best bit news we could have got during this period of lockdown, where our athletes have been confined to their homes or to training indoors with limited resources,” Salah Mohammad, General Secretary of the UAE Athletics Federation (UAE AF), told Gulf News.

“Now, with this suspension of the Olympic qualifying period we get a better chance and more opportunities to have our athletes competing in Tokyo next year,” he added.

The UAE AF is currently without a president following the provisional suspension of Ahmad Al Kamali for alleged potential violations of the IAAF Candidacy Rules and the Integrity Code of Conduct at the end of September last year. Since then, Al Kamali had has to take a step away from all governing bodies, including the IAAF and as president of the UAE AF.

His departure, although temporary, also threw a cog in the preparations of athletes from the UAE, predominantly the outstation ones such as distance runner Alia Mohammad Saeed, who is in her native Ethiopia.

“This news will now give our athletes the right direction. They all know now that they have another year before the Olympics. They are also aware that they have a grace period to ramp up their training till end of November, so that they can once again attempt for qualifying standards for Tokyo,” Mohammad related.

A regular with the UAE Olympic squad since London 2012, Alia Saeed will once again be the favourite to qualify in the 10,000 metres, while sprinter Naseeb Salmeen is also expected to make the qualifying mark in the 200 metres for men.

Subject to the global situation returning to normal, the qualification period will resume on December 1, 2020 and continue to the new qualification deadline in 2021 set by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) (see table below). The total qualification period, which started in 2019, will be four months longer than it was originally.

Qualification starting dates for entry standards and world rankings remain unchanged with many athletes already qualified by meeting the entry standards during 2019. With the qualification period from 1 December 2020 to 31 May 2021 (or 29 June 2021 depending on the event) the eligible qualification period (taking into account the eight-month suspension period) is longer than the original period by an additional four months.

“None of our athletes had made it during that initial period, but now we have a second opportunity. I am confident they will train even harder to make the Olympic standard in their events,” the UAE AF General Secretary hoped.

Meanwhile, the World Athletics Championships in Oregon have been rescheduled to July 15-24, 2022, following the postponement of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games to 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Oregon World Championships were originally scheduled for August 6-15, 2021, but have been rescheduled to the following year to avoid a clash with the Olympic and Paralympic Games. The World Athletics Council approved the new dates after extensive discussions with the sport’s stakeholders including organisers of two other major championships due to take place in July-August 2022 - the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games and the multisport European Championships in Munich.

The new schedule will prevent a direct conflict between any of these major events and, with careful programming, will ensure athletes can compete in up to three world-class competitions.


(Events; entry standards period; world rankings period)

Marathon, 50 km Walk; Jan 1, 2019-Apr 5, 2020 and Dec 1, 2020-May 31, 2021; Dec 1, 2018-April 5, 2020 and Dec 1, 2020-May 31, 2021

10,000m and 20km Walk; Jan 1 2019-Apr 5, 2020 and Dec 1, 2019-June 29, 2021; Jan 1, 2019-Apr 5, 2020 and Dec. 1, 2020-Jun 29, 2021 

All other events; May 1 2019-Apr 5, 2020 and Dec 1, 2020-June 29, 2021; June 30, 2019-Apr 5, 2020 and Dec 1, 2020-Jun 29, 2021