I write up these Q&A posts pretty much daily and get tons and tons of questions, but I’ve noticed over the past week that I’m getting a ton of questions — seven JUST TODAY — about what’s going to happen in 2020. I’ve answered many already in my posts and there’s a lot of repetition, which is getting annoying, though I get why people wouldn’t want to go back and read through the more than one thousand questions I’ve answered in the past couple of years. SO, I’m going to take this time to clear everything up in one article, and then I will never even say “2020” again until January 1 of that year.
There are two categories of questions I get. One has to do with how teams will qualify from world championships and world cup events to the Games, and the other has to do with each country’s team and specialists. I’ll go through both, and do as many real-life examples using this quad’s U.S. team and pretending the 2020 rules are in effect. If you have any questions beyond what I get into here, ask in the comments below and I’ll get back to you.
Qualifying to Tokyo 2020
Unlike recent quads where only world championships and the test event acted as qualifiers to the Olympic Games, in 2020 we get a whole series of competitions beginning two years before the Games.
Twelve teams will qualify to the Olympic Games, just like before. The top three teams at the 2018 World Championships in Doha get automatic berths, and then a year later, the top nine teams not already qualified get the remaining team spots. With four women on each team and twelve teams total, 48 of the 98 spots for women at the 2020 Olympics will belong to team gymnasts.
A large group of individuals will also qualify at 2019 worlds, including the top 20 all-arounders not on qualifying teams (these spots are nominative, meaning they go to the athlete and not to the federation) as well as anyone not part of a qualifying team who wins an individual event medal for a maximum of 12 there.
What if everyone who medals in apparatus finals is on a qualifying team or qualified through the all-around? Those 12 spots go back into the mix for all-arounders. For example, say the gymnast ranked 97th was the 20th to qualify for an individual spot and the gymnast ranked 98th is super sad because she missed out by a tenth. But then we go to event finals and all 12 are part of qualifying teams! Bam, that opens up another 12 spots for all-arounders, so our sad 98th-place gymnast is now thrilled.
In this Olympic year, it turned out only one gymnast — Hong Un Jong — went to the Olympics through event medal qualification, so the other 11 spots held for medalists went to all-arounders, with Ailen Valente of Argentina the last to qualify. But what if Larisa Iordache had medaled on beam in 2015? Only 10 extra all-around spots would’ve opened up instead of 11, and Valente would have missed qualifying.
To sum it up, there are 20 guaranteed all-around spots at 2019 worlds, but there could be as many as 32 who end up qualifying through the all-around there if no one ends up qualifying as an event medalist.
Now we move on to the world cup series. There are two versions of the world cup — apparatus and all-around. Over the past quads, these world cups have been popular for the prize money gymnasts can earn, but they meant absolutely nothing in terms of qualifying to larger events. In the coming quad, however, a total of 7 gymnasts will qualify through the world cups, making them pretty important.
For the apparatus world cups, the overall series winner on each event for 2018 and 2019 combined gets a nominative spot at the Games. Each gymnast who places in the top 12 at these meets gets a certain number of points for how she ranks in each final. Here’s the points chart:
|1st place||30 points||7th place||12 points|
|2nd place||25 points||8th place||10 points|
|3rd place||20 points||9th place||8 points|
|4th place||18 points||10th place||7 points|
|5th place||16 points||11th place||6 points|
|6th place||14 points||12th place||5 points|
At the end of each series, the gymnast’s top three rankings will be added together. Pretend I competed on beam at four world cup events in the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 seasons. Because I’m amazing but super inconsistent, I placed 1st, 3rd, 5th, and 10th. My 10th place finish would be dropped, so you’d add up my points from my top three rankings — 30 + 20 + 16 — to get 66 total points. Meanwhile, beam queen Sanne Wevers competed at three meets in these two seasons and got 1st place each time for a total of 90 points. She would be the overall series winner and would get a spot in Tokyo.
Gymnasts can qualify into one of these spots even if her country has a full team already qualified to the Games, BUT there’s a catch. The gymnast CAN’T have been part of either the 2018 or 2019 world championships teams! If Sanne had competed for the Netherlands at worlds in 2019 and helped them qualify a full team to the Games, she wouldn’t be eligible for this spot even though she’s the series winner. But if her sister Lieke was the second-place world cup series winner and wasn’t part of either worlds team because she was injured, she COULD get a nominative spot, meaning the Netherlands has qualified a full team through worlds and then a nominative beam gymnast through the world cup.
It’s important to note that at the Olympics, a gymnast who qualifies as an event medalist from 2019 worlds or as an apparatus world cup series winner can compete on all four events once she gets to Tokyo. Originally the rule was that she could only compete the event on which she qualified, but that would make things super complicated, so they changed the rule back to what it’s always been, though there will absolutely be some specialist gymnasts who qualify through event medals or through the world cup apparatus series who will only compete the events on which they specialize once they get to Tokyo. If Hong Un Jong gets in via a vault event medal as she did in 2016, for example, she’ll probably only end up competing vault and maybe one other event rather than all four because she wouldn’t be likely to make the all-around final and would rather put her energy and focus into the event(s) on which she would be most likely to medal.
For the all-around world cups, the qualifications go by country rather than by gymnast, so no one single gymnast has to go to three world cups. For example, in 2016, the U.S. had Gabby Douglas place first at the American Cup, MyKayla Skinner place first at the Glasgow World Cup, and Amelia Hundley place third at the Stuttgart World Cup. This combination of gymnasts had the highest overall all-around world cup series points ranking for 2016, and so if this year was 2020, the U.S. would’ve earned an Olympic spot, which would be non-nominative, meaning it belongs to the U.S. federation rather than to any specific gymnast.
Here are the points that correspond to each ranking for the all-around world cups:
|1st place||60 points||7th place||30 points|
|2nd place||55 points||8th place||25 points|
|3rd place||50 points||9th place||20 points|
|4th place||45 points||10th place||15 points|
|5th place||40 points||11th place||10 points|
|6th place||35 points||12th place||5 points|
At the end of the 2020 all-around world cup series, the top-three ranked federations will earn all-around spots. As a side note, these all-around world cups in the Olympic year are only open to gymnasts from the twelve qualifying teams. Once these teams are determined at 2018 and 2019 worlds, invitations go out to the federations inviting gymnasts to the world cups, meaning each of the 12 countries that qualify full teams will have the opportunity to qualify an additional all-arounder not part of the team.
Okay, NOW we get to the continental championships spots. This is actually pretty cool…there’s an Olympic rule regarding continental representation, requiring governing bodies to make sure at least two athletes from every continent gets to go to the Games (except Oceania, which only gets one guaranteed spot). In the past, any continent that didn’t have gymnasts qualify by their own merit got an automatic two spots. This year, for example, no African gymnasts qualified through worlds or the test event, but they still got to have two gymnasts in Rio.
In the coming quad, however, the continental championships qualifying spots will ensure that every continent fulfills this requirement with gymnasts getting in on their own merit! For each continental meet in 2020 — European Championships, Asian Championships, African Championships, the Pan-American Championships, and whatever continental meet Oceania ends up holding — the top two all-arounders (or one, in Oceania’s case) will qualify Olympic spots.
Of course, there are a bunch of little BUTS in here as well. Similar to the apparatus world cups, a gymnast part of a qualified team can earn an all-around spot, but only if she didn’t compete at the 2018 or 2019 worlds. Also, gymnasts part of a qualified team earn spots for their country, whereas gymnasts not part of qualifying teams earn nominative spots.
The final two spots belong to the host country and to the tripartite commission invitation. Because Japan will almost definitely qualify a full team and at least one additional spot in 2020, they’ll have no need for the host country spot, in which case another all-arounder from 2019 worlds will get in. The tripartite spot is guaranteed, however; it’s made available to one gymnast from a federation with fewer than eight athletes total at the previous two Olympic Games. In 2016, this spot went to Isabella Amado of Panama.
This is a lot of information. It’s insanely detailed and seems complicated because there’s just SO much stuff going on, but when you break it down it’s actually a pretty straightforward system. If you don’t care about the specifics, just know that 48 women will qualify on teams, at least 34 women and as many as 46 women will qualify as individual all-arounders, and at least 4 women and as many as 16 women will qualify as event specialists.
Here’s a chart that kind of glazes over everything I’ve said:
|2018 World Championships||Top 3 teams||12||Four members per team|
|2019 World Championships||Top 9 teams not already qualified||36||Four members per team|
|Individual all-arounders||20-33||Spots beyond 20 dependent upon event medalists and host country spot; only for those not part of qualifying teams; nominative|
|Event medalists||0-12||Not part of qualifying team, nominative|
|2018-2020 Apparatus World Cup Series||Overall series event champions||4||Can be part of qualifying team, but if so, can’t have competed at 2018-2019 worlds; based on points system; nominative|
|2020 All-Around World Cup Series||Top three overall series winners||3||Only gymnasts from 12 qualified teams are eligible to compete; based on points system; non-nominative|
|2020 Continental Championships||Top two all-arounders at each||9||Two from each continental meet in Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Americas; one from continental meet in Oceania;Can be part of qualifying team, but if so, can’t have competed at 2018-2019 worlds; nominative if not part of qualifying team but non-nominative if gymnast is part of qualifying team|
|Host Country||One guaranteed spot||0-1||If host country qualifies a team or individual, no extra host country spot is awarded and spot goes to an all-arounder from 2019 worlds|
|Tripartite||One guaranteed spot||1||Determined by the tripartite commission; nominative|
Teams vs Individuals
The question I get most often is regarding countries that qualify both teams and individuals. Any country that qualifies a full team also has the ability to qualify two additional non-team gymnasts. They can send all-arounders to the all-around world series and hope for a top three series ranking, they can send a gymnast who didn’t go to world championships to an apparatus world cup and hope for a first-place series ranking, they can nab an all-around spot at continental championships…
…but any of these additional non-team gymnasts will have nothing to do with the actual team. They won’t contribute scores in qualifications or team finals and they wont win team medals. But at the same time, they’re still competing for the same country as everyone on the actual team, so the two-per-country rule would still be two-per-COUNTRY, and not “two-per-country’s team and two-per-country’s individuals.”
Let’s use a real-life example to make this easier to understand. Pretend the 2020 rules existed in 2016. Let’s say the U.S. sent a team with Simone Biles, Laurie Hernandez, Aly Raisman, and Gabby Douglas with individual spots going to Madison Kocian (Martha Karolyi gave her the all-around world cup qualifying spot even though she’ll probably just compete bars) and let’s say Rachel Gowey as a specialist (she didn’t compete at either 2014 or 2015 worlds but we can pretend she qualified a nominative spot on beam at the apparatus world cups).
So they get to the Olympics and it’s time for qualifications. On bars, Madison and Gabby get the top two qualification spots and both make it into that final, so you have one team gymnast and one individual as the two-per-country for that event. But on beam, Simone and Laurie get the top two qualification spots while Rachel qualifies in third. Even though Rachel’s not on the team and is there just to do beam and nothing else, it’s still two-per-country, and so she would get knocked out of the final by the other two higher-ranked U.S. gymnasts.
Basically, even if a country has six gymnasts at the Olympics with four team gymnasts and two non-team, this isn’t 1972 with four or five Soviets in every final. The most you will see from any country in any individual final is two, as always. This is pretty much the only thing that HASN’T changed.
What you COULD see is all six gymnasts for the U.S. doing the all-around in qualifications. For the team, qualifications are four-up three-count, so because there are only four gymnasts on a team, all four will have to do the all-around if they want to drop a score. And if the U.S. names two all-arounders to the non-team spots, those two gymnasts will also do the all-around in qualifications. Considering only three got to do it in 2016, this is actually a pretty awesome improvement, especially for a country like the U.S. with so much all-around depth. In 2016, there were at least six U.S. gymnasts who could break 59 in the all-around, and if all of them could’ve done the all-around in Olympic qualifications, the competition for a finals spot would’ve been epic!
So this is a pretty long rundown of how everything’s gonna work in the coming quad leading up to the Olympics, but I’m sure some explanations created even MORE questions, so please feel free to ask in the comment section below. I’ll answer you ASAP and will also update the article with any pertinent info that comes out of the comments.
Article by Lauren Hopkins