Swimming Canada is making plans for an altered path to qualifying for the rescheduled Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and other 2021 events.
After reviewing multiple scenarios that could allow for sufficient physical distancing and other risk mitigating protocols at the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Swimming Trials, the organization plans to limit the number of competitors at Trials by hosting it as an invitational event.
Up to a maximum of 20 places will be offered per Olympic event at the Trials, which are scheduled for April 7-11 at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre. Each event will be contested as a timed final over two 10-lane heats, with dedicated warm-up and warm-down periods before and after each event. Paralympic events will be contested as multi-class timed finals, up to a maximum of 15 swimmers per event.
“Today we announce some key decisions for 2021, based on the best information we have available. In this global COVID-19 pandemic, we have to make health and safety the priority, along with allowing for the best possible performance from our athletes who will be invited to the Trials,” said High Performance Director John Atkinson.
In addition, the Canadian Open Water Swimming Trials scheduled for April 17-18 on Grand Cayman will be cancelled. Positions for Canada’s final spots in the FINA Olympic Marathon Swim qualifier scheduled for Fukuoka, Japan, on May 29-30, will be contested at the pool Trials.
As such, the selection criteria and process for the FINA World Junior Swimming Championships and FINA World Junior Open Water Swimming Championships will be re-developed and a new process announced in 2021 once more details are available from FINA. These teams will not be selected from Trials only as originally planned. In addition, Swimming Canada will not select a team for the FISU World University Games, and has informed U Sports of this decision.
“We do not take the decisions announced today lightly. We strive to ensure all in swimming are aware of the decisions and why we are taking them, and to give our athletes time to make plans based on the decisions,” Atkinson said. “While some of the decisions may not be popular, we determined this was the best alternative after a great deal of work went into considering multiple scenarios.”
Swimming Canada will post to its website an initial ranked list of 30 swimmers per Olympic event and up to 15 per Paralympic event who are eligible to receive an invitation to the Trials by Dec. 22, with the first round of invitations to be sent Jan. 6.
In order to be eligible to receive an invitation to attend the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Swimming Trials, swimmers must be registered with a Swimming Canada affiliated club in a Competitive registration category. Swimmers registered with a U SPORTS affiliated University must be registered in a Varsity registration category (Varsity or Varsity Year-Round). Permanent Non-resident Canadian swimmers must be registered directly with Swimming Canada and will represent Unattached Canada. All swimmers must have completed all Swimming Canada and Provincial Section registration requirements by noon EST on Dec. 18, 2020.
Only swimmers who meet the eligibility requirements to be selected to the 2021 Canadian Olympic Team or Paralympic Team as of Dec. 18, 2020 will be eligible to receive an invitation to the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Swimming Trials.
“The primary purpose of the Olympic and Paralympic Swimming Trials is to select athletes to be nominated to Team Canada for the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo,” said CEO Ahmed El-Awadi. “In a global pandemic, every scenario has its drawbacks, and any event we offer must be done with health and safety as the top priority. By hosting these Trials as an invitational event, it allows us to run a swim meet as safely as possible while giving us the best chance of selecting our Olympic and Paralympic teams as fairly as possible.”
Additional detail on the invitation process and other changes can be found HERE. The situation will be evaluated on an ongoing basis, and further details will be shared as they become available.
A review of the public health situation and how it relates to the ability to provide a safe environment for all participants will be undertaken on Feb. 15. Swimming Canada reserves the right to cancel the Trials at any point, should it be determined to be unsafe to proceed or be requested by Toronto Public Health, the Province of Ontario and/or any government agency that carries jurisdiction over matters of health and/or public safety. In this case, Swimming Canada may nominate swimmers to Team Canada by other means based on exceptional circumstances.
“Conversely, should the COVID-19 pandemic have improved significantly, the review may address the format of the Trials, however this will not see more athletes invited to the Trials,” Atkinson added.