How the canoe sprint and paracanoe Tokyo qualifiers work

More than 1000 athletes from over 100 countries have converged on Szeged, Hungary, for this week’s ICF Paracanoe and Canoe Sprint World Championships, with Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic quotas on the line.

Almost 900 able-bodied athletes will compete for 170 Olympic athlete quotas and 82 boat quotas in Szeged, while in the paracanoe, 30 male and 24 female positions will be up for grabs.

It is important to point out, no individuals will qualify for Tokyo this week. They are all competing to earn their country a place at the Olympics, and it will then be up to the country to determine who will fill that position.

And each athlete can only earn one quota for their country, no matter how many events they compete in.

The most eagerly sought after quotas are the men’s and women’s K4 500. Finishing top ten, and meeting the continental criteria, will open up opportunities for countries to spread the four athletes over K2 and K1 events.

But finishing top ten may not be enough. If fewer than four continents are represented in the ten, the bottom-ranked of the ten can be re-allocated to a continent not yet qualified – as long as that continent contested the B final.

The same could then apply to the ninth and the eighth-ranked team until four continents are represented, but again, those continents need to have contested the B final.

The other events are much simpler. In the men’s C2 1000 and the women’s C2 500, the eight highest ranked national Olympic committees will qualify. In the men’s K2 1000 and women’s K2 500, it’s the six highest ranked, while in the K1 and C1 events it will be the top five.

There will be further quotas available at continental qualifiers and next year’s ICF world cup in Duisburg.

For paracanoe athletes, the road to Tokyo is much more straight forward. 30 male and 24 females can earn quotas this week in Szeged, the first six in each Paralympic race. However no country can earn more than one quota per event.

The remaining Paracanoe quotas will be allocated at next year’s world championships in Duisburg.

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