All eyes are on Tokyo. We're less than two years away from the 2020 Olympic games, and United World Wrestling has already released preliminary qualifying procedures.
With USA Wrestling working on the process of how to make the 2019 world team in all three styles, we know one thing for sure: making the team next year at an Olympic weight is paramount. The way a wrestler qualifies for Tokyo will not be much different than the process for Rio, but there will be some differences.
First, let's go over how a nation becomes eligible to compete in Tokyo. It is important to remember that in this qualification process, an athlete qualifies the weight for his or her nation, but does not necessarily guarantee they have a spot locked up. For example, in 2016 Tony Ramos qualified 57kg for Team USA by making the Pan Am finals, but lost in the Olympic Trials to Dan Dennis, who ultimately was America's representative in Rio.
Second, we'll get into the number of tries an athlete gets at qualifying the spot for their country. There are three opportunities: the 2019 world championships, the 2020 Continental qualifiers, and one "last chance qualifier" or World Qualification Tournament.
Tokyo Olympic Qualifying Tournaments
- 2019 World Championships
- 2020 Continental Tournament
- 2020 Last Chance Qualifier
For each of the past three Olympics, if you wrestled for a medal at the world championships in the year before the Games, you qualified your country. That means, your gold, silver, and bronze medalists at the six Olympic weights, plus the two wrestlers who lose in the bronze medal match and place fifth.
Similarly, the finalists at the 2020 Continental Qualifier earn a spot for their nation. This is not the same as the Continental championships, which we see every year. In order to compete at the Continental qualifier, the nation has to send an equal or greater number of wrestlers to the 2020 Continental championships. So if say Brazil sends four Greco wrestlers to the 2020 Pan Am championships, they can send the same number to the 2020 Pan Am Olympic qualifier.
Lastly, there was a change for 2020 from the procedures in 2012 and 2016. For London and Rio, there were two last chance qualifiers. Now, there will be just one. We don't know where it will be, but that will be the final opportunity to earn your way into the Games.
Below are the full procedures, which can still be modified.