UAE's Betlhem Desalegn is preparing for the Olympics Image Credit: Francois Nel/Gulf News

Dubai: World Athletics (WA) has launched ‘Road to Tokyo’, an online tool to help athletes, media and fans track the qualification process for next year’s delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

Searchable by discipline, country and qualification status, the tool will provide a real-time view of each and every event over the course of the Tokyo qualification period that ends on June 29, 2021 as per the new schedule.

Earlier in May, WA had ratified a fresh Olympic qualification system while adapting to the new dates of the Games, which were postponed in March. The Games will now be held from July 23 to August 8, 2021.

As per the changes made, the qualification principles will remain unchanged with athletes able to qualify through entry standards and then the World Athletics World Rankings.

Athletes who have already met the entry standard since the start of the qualification period in 2019 remain qualified and will be eligible for selection by their respective Member Federations and National Olympic Committees, together with the other athletes who will qualify within the extended qualification period.

Due to the uneven training and competition opportunities around the world during the coronavirus pandemic, WA had announced in the beginning of April that the qualification period for all events was to be suspended from April 6 to November 30, 2020.

As per the latest status, the UAE’s Betlhem Desalegn is the only athlete who has so far qualified for the track and field competition that is scheduled to be held at Tokyo’s main Olympic Stadium, from July 31 until the final day on August 8.

However, the 28-year-old Desalegn, who is currently training in her native Addis Ababa, is not exactly assured of a qualification after the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) had pushed the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to impose a two-year ban on the Emirati middle-distance runner after finding she had committed an anti-doping rule violation (ADRV) just before the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Ethiopian-born Desalegn was charged by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) for a doping offence in 2016 on the basis of an abnormal longitudinal profile in the context of the world governing body’s Athlete Biological Passport (ABP) Programme.

Following a decision of the UAE National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA), Desalegn was initially cleared of the doping offence on the eve of the 2016 Games, but the IAAF immediately exercised its right of appeal to the CAS and re-imposed a provisional suspension in an attempt to help preserve the integrity of athletics at Rio 2016.

In a subsequent decision, the UAE Athletics Federation imposed a reduced sanction of 15 months, which was again appealed to CAS by the IAAF. CAS then found that Desalegn had committed an ADRV as a result of likely use of a prohibited substance or method.

As well as imposing a full two-year period of ineligibility, the body had disqualified Desalegn’s results from March 6, 2014 through to July 22, 2016.