Clearing Up the 2020 Confusion

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:

Ranking Points Ranking Points
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:

Ranking Points Ranking Points
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

79 thoughts on “Clearing Up the 2020 Confusion

  1. Lauren you’re the best! Thank you for laying everything out so clearly and for giving examples.
    It seems that there are 3 ways for a country that qualified a full team to qualify individuals, but each country can only earn a max of 2 spots. Does this mean that countries have to choose which one they want to pursue? Or can they pursue all 3 and then decide which to accept?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I believe they can do all three but I’m not sure if they choose their two or if it goes by timing…like if you first qualify at a world cup AA and then at continental championships, those are the two spots you get and so you couldn’t then go on and qualify at the world cup apparatus series…that makes the most sense to me because I think if countries had the option to choose, it would be insane because say the U.S. picks a world cup AA spot as one but then is deciding between a continental AA spot and a world cup apparatus spot. For both of those, another federation would be waiting to see if the U.S. turned one down so their athlete next in line would get it, which would make things too crazy. So my GUESS is that it’s the order in which you qualify, and you can go the third route, but you wouldn’t be eligible to qualify there, if that makes sense. But I haven’t seen any documents where this is made clear…I just think it’s logistically impossible for the “you get a choice” side of things.


      • It is clear in the most recent rules issued. If you have already qualified two spots you become ineligible to qualify a spot the third way. So the AA World Cups and Apparatus World Cups are on the calendar first. The Continental Championships are last. So if the US qualified an additional spot via the AA World Cups and a nominative spot via the Apparatus World Cups (They would have to send the same gymnast to at least 3 Apparatus World Cups and it would be nominative, not very desirable for Team USA), they would not be eligible to qualify an additional spot via the Continental Championships. So the US would have to choose to skip the Apparatus World Cups and send 2 AAers who did not compete at the 2018 or 2019 World Championships (i.e. they could send the alternate) to the Continental Championships (perfect assignment for a new senior who was ineligible for 2019 Worlds but good enough to be in serious consideration for USA’s 2020 representation). This way the US could end up with 6 non-nominative spots and could send anyone of their choice (AAer or specialist) to the 2020 Olympics. BTW, if a federation doesn’t qualify a team they can qualify up to 7 individuals via the various individual qualification routes.


  2. Up until now many have talked about the potential ‘six person team’ as if any qualifying team just gets to throw in two specialists “just because”. Like we could’ve had our four AAers and then just thrown Ashton and Mykayla in just simply because. But the way I read this, those two additional specialist spots really do have to be qualified for in all of the cup series. They aren’t just given to a qualifying team to use as they so choose, So only a handful of countries will have 6 athletes, while many other top 12 teams will only have 4 or 5? Is that correct? (If not I apologize, I’m on a medication that’s makes me very loopy and unclear some days.)


    • Yeah, no team who qualifies automatically gets an extra two spots. If the U.S. didn’t feel like sending anyone to any world cup or continental meet, they’d only get their four team spots, nothing more. So you’re correct! Not all of the federations with full teams in 2020 will have six athletes going.


  3. Lauren, you’re the best! Great explanation. I imagine the U.S. will try for six all-around spots by sending a new senior to the Continental Championships or somebody who just missed out on Worlds the year before. Getting an AA final spot is going to be very challenging!


    • Yes, I think the best way to get to the Olympics in 2020 is going the all-around route, so I don’t think we’ll see many trying to break off and become one or two-event specialists for the hopes of getting in via that one shot by winning an apparatus world cup…the chances of that happening are going to be VERY slim, and I think the U.S. will definitely be hoping for the world cup all-around and continental all-around spots, both of which would be super easy for them to get. AND they could always send someone like Madison Kocian or MyKayla Skinner in those all-around spots…neither would really challenge for the AA final though they could do the AA in qualifications at the Olympics but really be shooting for EF spots.


  4. Is the qualification of non-team gymnasts limited to any number? For example using 2015 worlds Romania qualified 3 gymnasts in the AA.


    • I’m not sure what you mean about Romania…how many can do all-around in qualifications? All four members of the team can do it, and if the country has two all-around non-team spots, both of those gymnasts can do the all-around as well.


      • I meant using the qualification rules for 2020 for this quad.. So the top 20 AA at Worlds 2019 will qualify excluding qualified team members if I’m reading that right. So in 2015 2 Romanians qualified within the top 20 (excluded gymnasts from team countries) then a further 1 since EF spots weren’t used up.. So do all 3 qualify to the Olympics?
        For example, say Austria don’t qualify a team but 3 of their girls finished within the top 20 AA at Worlds 2019 does that mean that all 3 qualify to the Olympics or only the top 2 best finishers?


        • Ohhhh okay! That makes sense. No, countries can only be eligible for two spots, so if three gymnasts from a country that didn’t qualify a full team end up placing in the top 20, only two can get in. So Larisa Iordache and Laura Jurca would’ve qualified nominative spots through the all-around, but that would be it for Romania.


  5. So if the US wins two non-nominative from the world all around cups and continental but also wine a nominative spot, can the choose to use the two non-nominative and not take the nominative person?

    Thanks a ton!


    • No, I think it will basically work in order of how they qualify…if they qualify a non-nominative AA spot and a nominative beam spot first, they can’t go on to continental champs and get another AA spot and then back out on the nominative beam spot.


    • Here are the rules from the FIG:

      • The number of the counting ranks achieved by the respective gymnast will be added. The gymnast with the lowest total will prevail.

      • If there is still a tie, the final score of the three counting exercises will be added and the gymnast with the highest total score will prevail.

      • If there is still a tie, the total execution score of the three counting exercises will be added and the gymnast with the highest total execution score will prevail.

      So it looks like they’ll add the rankings together rather than the points attached…so if a gymnast gets 1st, 5th, and 5th for a total of 60 points and another gymnast gets a total of 60 points with three 3rd place wins, they’ll add 1 + 5 + 5 together for the first gymnast to get 11 and then for the second gymnast, they’ll add 3 + 3 + 3 together to get 9, so the second gymnast will win because she had the overall better ranking.

      Beyond that if there are still ties, they look at actual scores rather than rankings/points.


  6. Thanks, Lauren, this is super helpful! I’m still a little confused about the world cup series/Worlds team restrictions. In the example you gave with Sanne and Lieke– since Lieke wasn’t a part of the Worlds team but then qualifies as an individual, does that mean she wouldn’t then be eligible to make the four-person Netherlands team (assuming they qualify one)? Or if she does, does her individual spot go back into the pool, so that they pick up the next highest-scoring gymnast in the series for a nominative spot? Thanks!


    • Good question! If Lieke got a nominative spot as a beam gymnast at a world cup but the Netherlands wanted to put her on the team, she could give up that nominative spot and it would go to whoever placed behind her in the world cup series so the Netherlands would lose that additional spot.


    • They can only get one spot at the all-around world cup since the series is decided by overall country ranking, not athlete ranking. Each country will only get one ranking so no country can rank first and second.


  7. Lauren, it will be possible for the specialists to compete at the 2018/2019 worlds WITHOUT a team? For example, Diego Hypolito and Arthur Zanetti in the brazillian team. If they want a spot in 2020 they will have to sit out Worlds 18/19?


    • No, both teams and individuals compete at worlds in 2018 and 2019 and those individuals can also compete in the world cup series. The only people not allowed to compete at worlds if they want to get in through the world cup series are people who are part of teams that qualified full teams to the Olympics.


        • Oh, yes. Correct. Specialists either have to compete at worlds and win a medal there, or they can skip worlds and try to get a world cup series title. Honestly, competing at worlds and placing top three is gonna be a lot easier than being the sole winner per world cup event…but they can’t do that if they’re part of a team so the world cup series is the only way for the Brazilian specialists, essentially.


  8. So, even though the non-nominative spot must be won by an athlete not competing at Worlds, it’s still at the discretion of the Federation who ultimately gets it, and thus could be given to someone who DID compete at Worlds? (e.g., to use 2016 gymnasts, the spot could be given to Maggie Nichols?)


    • For the continental championships, yes. I think the reasoning behind this is because they don’t want one gymnast technically qualifying multiple times. If Simone Biles went to worlds and helped the team qualify in 2019 and then went to continental championships and qualified a non-nominative AA spot, she technically qualified twice even though both times it was non-nominative. In a sense, it’s unfair to have one gymnast qualify multiple spots even if she obviously won’t get those multiple spots at the Olympics…I think they’re trying to spread out the wealth a little bit, so to speak. So you can’t use your top gymnasts from worlds once again to qualify even more spots, basically.


    • It might be to give more incentive to some teams to bring strong teams to worlds in that middle year because it means they don’t have to worry about making it happen a year later? Sometimes in that middle quad year, you see many teams taking it easy with who they bring so it could just be to make them have an incentive to bring their A game. I also think most countries would rather get it out of the way early on, and it’s a nice reward to those who do good work early on.


      • So a team could qualify in 2016 and end up with a much weaker team in 2020 due to many injuries ? I’m just thinking about Romania and how their position in the international field changed in less than 2 years… what do you think about that ? 🙂


  9. Because you can only be the event winner of the world cups in 2018-2019 this basically screws over new seniors in the Olympic year, right? Or is the world cup specialist spots only in 2020?


  10. If 2018 qualifies 3 teams and 2019 qualifies the remaining 9, does that mean there will be no 2020 Tokyo Olympic Test Event? Or do the rules for the Test Event change as well?


    • There will probably be a test event, but it will be used only as a “practice” meet to help teams who need it prepare for the Games rather than as a qualifying meet. No one will qualify through the test event.


    • Well, there was a problem with the old system where very strong specialists without a team had a tough time qualifying to Rio, because individuals were invited to the test event based on their all-around finish. Dipa almost wasn’t in Rio because she didn’t actually place high enough to qualify for the test event initially. She was a reserve and only got to go because North Korea were satisfied with Hong qualifying and turned down their two test event spots. So it’s a problem that someone who finished 4th in the Olympic vault final nearly didn’t get to be there because she’s a better specialist than AAer! On the men’s side, the reigning Olympic pommel horse champ wasn’t there at all for similar reasons.

      The new specialist part of the system is basically built for athletes like him and Dipa. I think the rules about not being able to use gymnasts who were on teams that qualified at worlds to grab those spots, and that the gymnasts who earn them can only compete on that one event, make it pretty clear what type of gymnast the FIG had in mind for them. I would have rather the FIG just hand out fewer individual AA spots and more individual specialist ones, instead of completely changing the format of the team competition again, but the majority of countries who have no shot at qualifying a team probably would have been opposed to that.


      • I don’t know why they couldn’t just reconfigure the test event to let both specialists and AA-ers qualify. This new system seems crazy complicated, but oh well.


      • Yeah, it’s still MUCH harder for specialists to qualify because they either have to win a worlds medal (11 out of 12 worlds medals went to team gymnasts in 2015 so that was almost a wash) or win the world cup series, which could be difficult, but it’s better than nothing. I’m happy with the improvements but still think it’s going to be way too hard for specialists to earn their due.


  11. Wow, thank you Lauren. It’s extremely complicated – but very clever. Essentially, the top gymnastics countries like the USA, Russia, China will have incentives with this system to do the following:

    (i) Send great specialists (who they don’t think will make the 4-person 2020 Olympics team, which will be comprised of all-arounders) to the World Cup “apparatus” events. Gymnasts like MyKayla Skinner (vault), Madison Kocian (bars), Ashton Locklear (bars).. This could result in certain specific specialists getting these nominative spots.

    (ii) Send the best all arounders to the World Cup all around events — in order to get a country a non-nominative space (because most likely the gymnasts sent will have been on the 2 prior world teams — but if a great AA wasn’t on the 2 prior worlds, due to illness or age eligibility, then they could grab a nominative spot — although I think a country like the USA would like to have the most flexibility in who they actually send to Toyko 2020, so would probably prefer the non-nominative position).

    (iii) Send its A-team to its continental championships – to get that non-nominative spot (because the USA has been sending its B team to the Pan Ams the past few quads).

    Ideally, I think a country like the USA would love to just get 2 non-nominative spots in this process. The team” will be all arounders – because it would be too risky to put in a pure specialist who doesn’t do AA or have a great AA potential. And it would use the 2 other spots for specialists/alternates who can bring in individual apparatus medals (or help the team by stepping in at the last minute).

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Lauren, you’re awesome.

    If a gymnast wins an event medal as part of a team in the 2018-2019 worlds they don’t get spots, but they might still not be selected to be on the 2020 team, right? And therefore not be part of the olympics. That seems kind of sad for these athletes


    • Thank you! Yes, that’s correct…similar to, say, Maggie Nichols last year. She won a bronze medal on floor and helped the team qualify, and so she wasn’t eligible for an event medal win and then also didn’t make the team. So that’s still something that happened in this past quad and isn’t unique to the new system.


      • Right, I forgot they had that already. But still, 2013-2016 quad didn’t allow for gymnasts from a qualifying country to compete outside the team, so it’s not exactly the same situation. Maybe that could have been changed. Anyway, I’m not sure how relevant that would be.

        Do you think this change would hurt teams that are not as strong in all-around as US and Russia. Like, how would the Netherlands have done if they didn’t have Sanne on the team or if she had to do AA? The same for Great Britain with Becky?

        Thanks again!


        • Yeah, it still sucks either way. And basically the teams that stand out in 2020 are gonna be the ones with four well-balanced all-arounders since it’s still four up three count in quals. Teams could conceivably bring three all-arounders and a specialist BUT they run the risk of having to count a fall in quals if they’re only putting three up on a particular event. So the Netherlands could have Sanne on the team for bars and beam, but then they would only have three to go up on vault and floor in quals, which might work out if they had no other AAers in the top three on either and were gonna drop those scores anyway, but at the same time it’s def risky to put only three up on the event.


  13. Thank you Lauren for the clear explanation and examples. There are a few remarks that I have:
    – If apparatus medal winners in 2019 World Championships are already qualified, the unused places will go to the next best ranked gymnast in the apparatus finals of 2019 Worlds (up to rank 8). This is a very important possibility for event specialists!
    – The AA qualification based on the 2019 Worlds would be maximum 1 per NOC (from the document on the FIG site), this would mean minimum 32 countries (12 team and 20 AA) get an AA spot for the Olympics!


  14. So you’ve said anywhere from x-y number can qualify here multiple places and, honestly it’s still super confusing to me, but in the past there was a number of gymnasts and spots filled by straight forward process rules from the test event. It sounds like you are saying every gymnast must earn their spot (and they’ve made adjustments so that each continent is represented), but what if every spot isn’t filled? Line, what if whatever the number is (98? I don’t know) isn’t met? Like, if only 92 girls meet the requirements? Are there trickle down the line things set up so that those spots are filled? It’s still super confusing to me. It sounds like though a gymnast from a country that doesn’t have a big program (say Chuck, for example) can’t really take much of a break to qualify. I mean, she should be able to, at least in just a specialist world cup spot, if nothing else? Would these rules have been able to get Lari to Rio? Would Ponor have been allowed? So, do countries still get the one AA spot if their team doesn’t qualify. Sorry if you explained it. I’m just so confused still. Like could a non team country send 2 (if they qualify, say Australia), but Belgium had a rough quad and doesn’t have any spots?


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  19. Hy, I’m french, I’m worning my english is not verry good…! I’ve got a question; Imagine, US qualify a team (4 gym), an AA at word cup, an AA a the Americain Champion Ships (idk if it’s the right name) AND an individual at an appartus un Word cup. Will they have 7 gymnastes at the Olympics, 6 AA and one spécialist ? Or just 6 no more ?


    • No, only six! Countries without full teams can qualify as many individuals as possible (though most will only get one or two) but countries with full teams can only have four team gymnasts and two specialists.


  20. FIG needs to stop this nonsense. They’ve been chasing a non-existent problem since 1996. The old 6-6-5 format worked just fine, and it was the best for gymnastics fans. We want to see more gymnastics, not less. What’s their plan for 2024? A team of two?


  21. Thanks for this! Just 2 questions:
    1) so no test event anymore?
    2) is there a limit on women’s/country qualifing througt the AA at worlds?
    (Example: 2019 word’s ; a country cant qualify as a team but manage to qualify 3 individual gymnasts, than all 3 can go?


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  24. What do you think is the intent of the rule that states an event specialist can’t have competed at prior Worlds? For example, as I think I understand it, Maria Paseka could not have a vault specialist spot for Russia if she competed at 2018 or 2019 Worlds. Wouldn’t it seem risky for Russia to leave her home from Worlds hoping that she’d qualify an individual spot through WC series?


    • This is something that might be changing (I have to go through the updates and proposals) but I think the initial intent was that they didn’t want the same athletes qualifying all of the spots. If Paseka was on the 2018 team and helped qualify the full team and then goes and qualifies an individual spot for herself, she technically qualified twice.


      • I appreciate the responses! Totally understand this reasoning… I think the piece that I keep getting stuck on though is that it also seems unfair that an event specialist who wants to compete at the Olympic Games is precluded from the opportunity to also compete in two years of World Championships. That feels a little limiting. (That may just be me!) Perhaps there should be opportunity to have event specialists at the Worlds competitions as well… that way there is not the duplication you referenced above, and event specialists aren’t limited to one or the other competition.


        • Yeah, it’s definitely limiting…I get the reasoning behind it but yeah, the having specialists at worlds thing would make the most sense. Especially since qualifying via winning a medal at worlds is one way to get a nom. spot for the Olympics?! If all of the specialists hold out for world cups, then the whole “winning a medal at worlds to guarantee a spot” becomes kind of pointless.


        • In my ideal world (if I must accept we can no longer have a 6-6-5 format), I’d like to see a competition four or so weeks before the start of the Games at which gymnasts from countries without a full team, or gymnasts who didn’t make their country’s team, compete for the last 50 spots. Sort of an Olympic trials for the world. Under my rules, the gymnasts who place in the top 7 of each apparatus get a spot at the Olympics on that apparatus. The top 22 all arounders at the competition get spots in the all around competition at the Olympics. The 22 all around gymnasts can also compete in the event finals at the Olympics if they score high enough to qualify during the first day of competition. So, 48 gymnasts on teams, 28 gymnasts on apparatus, and 22 all around. I think that adds up to 98. The max per country would still be 6. I don’t like the idea of giving nominative spots 9 months before the start of the Olympics. A gymnast peaking in October can later struggle but, not wanting to let go of their spot, show up at the Games in poor form and out of shape. On the other hand, a gymnast who was not in top form in October 2019, may turn out to be the best vaulter in the world in June 2020. The non-team spots should be awarded as close to the cut-off for submitting names to the IOC as possible.


    • My guess is that they want to ensure true event specialists get those spots. The conventional wisdom is that 1-2 years before the Games, countries more or less should have their presumptive teams of four attending Worlds. They don’t want countries using their best specialists to help win team medals and a slot for the team, only to then opt to use gymnasts who helped qualify the team for an individual spot.


      • That’s part of it, but it’s more about the same gymnast not qualifying multiple spots for the same country, which would be unfair to other countries. A team at worlds in 2018 doesn’t have to be their “presumptive” team…the FIG doesn’t really care if they take an entirely different squad in 2020 than the one that qualified the team spot two years earlier (just look at the U.S. team in 2014 compared to 2016). But if a team uses the same two girls as the backbone behind qualifying the team and then ALSO qualifying the individual spots, is it really a strong nation? The individual spots are meant for the nations who are strong enough to justify qualifying “extra” gymnasts to worlds beyond those on the team itself, and if your country needs the same gymnast to qualify both the team and individual spots, then they really don’t merit having extra spots basically.


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  27. How does an individual qualify to 2019 worlds? I know the top 24 women’s teams qualify, but what about the AA and event gymnasts with no team in 2018.


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  30. Re-reading this because (a) it’s a great article, and (b) I have more questions now…

    If one gymnast from a non-qualifying team wins 2 events at the end of the 8 apparatus world cup events, with the other two events won by two other gymnasts, will only 3 spots (instead of 4) be awarded for this qualification route? (If, for example, Jade Carey wins FX and VT, Fan Yilin wins bars, and Emma Nedov wins bars, will only these three gymnasts qualify? Or will the second-place finisher on either VT or FX earn the 4th spot?)


  31. Do you think countries with depth on a certain event will (or could) start to strategically use their event specialists to “block” other gymnasts from gaining sufficient points to win? There is no rule that gymnasts from qualifying teams can’t go to the AWC to win prize money or otherwise compete, but those same gymnasts could be useful if, for example, Fan Yilin is China’s designated bars specialist so they send Lyu Jiaqi and other bar workers to the AWCs for experience but also to take points from other contenders, then put Lyu Jiaqi on the 2019 worlds team making her ineligible for the AWC spot, thereby giving Fan Yilin the top spot. Or will the points earned by gymnasts from the qualifying teams be reassigned to the next gymnast who competed but was not part of a qualifying team?


    • They reassign points after they remove anyone who is ineligible. Like Rebecca Andrade. She will likely be on Brazils world’s team and earn a spot to the Olympics on the team. So she won’t be eligible for the AWC spots. The points will be reassigned.


  32. Now that the USA has qualified a full team ạt the 2018 world championships. Can Jade Carey attend the 2019 world championships and keep her non nominative spot she is earning through apparatus world cups? She isn’t technically helping qualify the team since they already qualified in 2018.


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