World Cups Canceled, But Baku’s On This Weekend

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Vanessa Ferrari’s passing your quarantine tests and winning your floor medals

The coronavirus is ruining Olympic qualifications (and gymnastics in general!) for everyone right now, with the cancellation of the Stuttgart World Cup and postponement of the Doha World Cup, but the little bit of good news we can still hang onto is that Baku is still happening this weekend.

Despite the current threat of the virus, many gymnasts who are looking to qualify to the Olympic Games as specialists, or who just want a little extra preparation going into the rest of the season, have flown to Azerbaijan to compete this weekend.

The biggest sigh of relief comes in seeing China back in action after they were forced to sit out Melbourne last month. The team has been training in Doha for weeks now to avoid corona-related travel misery, so they’re safe to compete in Baku, and will continue aiming for individual spots in both MAG and WAG.

For the men, Weng Hao currently leads pommels and Liu Yang leads rings, while Fan Yilin tops the bars rankings, all having earned 90 points, the highest available to a gymnast in this qualification series. All three are looking likely to hold onto their positions through the end of the series, but with only one per country eligible to qualify through the world cups, it’ll could come down to a tiebreaker assuming both Weng and Liu win their respective events.

With only two qualifiers left – Baku and Doha, which has been rescheduled for June – it means mathematically, it’s now impossible for most of the contenders to, well, contend. Here’s how the scenarios are looking to play out for each event.

WOMEN’S VAULT

Jade Carey of the United States, who isn’t in Baku, leads with a perfect 90 right now, and the only one who can realistically take her down at this point is Yu Linmin of China. She’s currently ranked third with 60 points, but while a win this weekend can bump her to 90, matching Carey’s total, Carey would win the tie-break and is more or less guaranteed to qualify to the Olympic Games on vault…unless, of course, the world cups go kaput and everything changes, but that’s a worry for another day.

UNEVEN BARS

Fan Yilin has a pretty decisive lead here, with a total of 90 points putting her two wins ahead of next-in-line Daria Spiridonova of Russia, currently ranked sixth with 50 points, with just one win. Fan can miss the final completely this weekend and still hold onto her lead, but obviously she’ll want the insurance of a fourth win to absolutely come out of the entire series with the berth.

But Spiridonova has a shot to get close if she can win in Baku, and then keep that up in Doha, and then another one we have to consider is Rebeca Andrade of Brazil, who won the first competition in Cottbus back in 2018, and is currently ranked eighth with 30 points. If either Spiridonova or Andrade wins both here and in Doha, they’re going to match Fan and it’ll come down to the tie-breaker, so there’s obviously a lot at stake for both and we’ll hopefully see them at their very best.

BALANCE BEAM

This is the tricky event, with a total of three gymnasts still in pretty equal contention (the six wins went to five different gymnasts, but two of them – Li Qi and Zhao Shiting – aren’t competing in Baku, taking them out of the running).

Emma Nedov of Australia has the lead right now with 75 points, but with only one win under her belt compared to two wins for Urara Ashikawa of Japan, Ashikawa can essentially seal the deal in Sunday’s final if she knocks out her third win in a row. She’s currently at 60 points after taking gold in both Cottbus and Melbourne, so adding another 30 will get her to 90 (math!) and will mean it’s over for everyone else.

As with bars, Andrade is back here, and with 30 points from Cottbus in 2018, she’d just need a win here and in Doha to reach 90 points, putting her also solidly in contention, but beam isn’t generally Andrade’s best event, and both Nedov and Ashikawa have been looking incredible in recent months, while Andrade’s been out with an injury for nearly a year. She’ll spice things up, for certain, but if she does end up sneaking into the rankings, I think that’ll happen for her on bars.

WOMEN’S FLOOR EXERCISE

Once again, it’s Carey with the lead here with 90 points, but assuming she qualifies through vault, it leaves things open for a few other competitors – most notably, the Italians, with Vanessa Ferrari and Lara Mori both officially tied for second at the moment (though unofficially, Ferrari wins the tie-break).

Ferrari and Mori have gone back and forth in their work on floor, but Ferrari had a decisively stronger routine in Melbourne last month and looks to be in the shape she needs to be in if she wants to upset her young teammate. However, while the spot seems likely to go to either of these two, I also wouldn’t count out Anastasiia Bachynska of Ukraine, who picked up 30 points at Cottbus last year and isn’t that far behind. A win for her here could skyrocket her ahead of both Italians, taking her from 50 points to 80 points, though I do think Ferrari is more likely to score higher here and take the title.

MEN’S FLOOR EXERCISE

Rayderley Zapata of Spain has held his lead for quite some time now, and he’s currently first with 85 points, but he floundered a bit in Melbourne and this could make room for someone like Kazuki Minami of Japan or Ryu Sung-hyun of South Korea – each of whom currently has one win apiece – to take over, while Casimir Schmidt of the Netherlands is still mathematically not out as well.

POMMEL HORSE

Not only does China’s Weng Hao have the lead here with 90 points, but second-ranked Kohei Kameyama – who had two wins and 80 points – has been taken out of the circuit by the Japanese team for not being up-to-standard, so that means it’s literally Weng’s to lose. Stephen Nedoroscik of the United States put up a statement routine at Melbourne last month, and if he does that twice more, he’ll tie Weng, which is especially important to note because of the multiple event winner tie-breaker situation China will be in. Should China qualify on rings, the pommels alternate gets the spot and that could very well be Nedoroscik if he plays his cards right (but it could also realistically be Saeedreza Keikha of Iran, who doesn’t have any wins and can’t challenge Weng outright, but he still has a shot to stay ranked second, becoming the alternate and the Olympic qualifier if he holds onto second).

STILL RINGS

We talked about how Liu Yang of China is currently leading rings with 90 points, but I think almost everyone on the gymternet collectively wants him to botch a few handstands in solidarity with Eleftherios Petrounias. Petrounias, currently fourth with 55 points after a win in Melbourne, is mathematically still in the mix to tie Liu’s 90 points if he wins the next two, but Liu is just so good, it could happen that Liu keeps winning, but as with pommels, Petrounias will still want to kick major butt so he can rank second and just pray that China qualifies on pommels.

Courtney Tulloch of Great Britain is also still fighting heartily to qualify on rings, and he’s currently third with 66 points, but with struggles at recent meets, I don’t see him upsetting either Liu or Petrounias.

MEN’S VAULT

This world cup series has turned men’s vault into the beam of MAG, for the most part, and so qualifying here has been an “anyone’s game” kind of situation. Right now, Hidenobu Yonekura of Japan has the lead with 75 points, but he missed the final completely in Melbourne, opening the door to Jorge Vega Lopez of Guatemala (technically tied in first with 75 points, though Yonekura wins the tie-break) and Shin Jea-hwan of South Korea (currently third with 71 points). It could be a fight to the death for these three guys this weekend, none of whom has more than one win. In that sense, though he’s ranked lower in eighth with 42 points, Audrys Nin Reyes of the Dominican Republic is also technically in the mix, though again, realistically, I don’t see him breaking into that top three group.

PARALLEL BARS

With most of the top p-bars guys in the world already qualified to the Olympics, or part of teams that used them to qualify, the p-bars field has pretty much been the weakest in the world cup series in terms of those hoping to get to Tokyo on this event, but Vladislav Poliashov of Russia has been straight killing the game, getting to 90 points with his win in Melbourne to currently sit at the top.

Behind him, You Hao of China has 85 points and two wins, so he’s more than capable of taking the lead and even winning the series outright, but again, with China already having guys on top of the rankings on pommels and rings, a p-bars win for You doesn’t necessarily guarantee him an Olympic berth. It’ll just make an already insane process even more annoying as we wait for the FIG to figure out who’s winning what and why.

HIGH BAR

So, congratulations Epke Zonderland of the Netherlands, I guess? After “underperforming” (??!!) in Melbourne last month, Japan withdrew Hidetaka Miyachi from the qualification process, leaving Zonderland the only person left in the field who can qualify to Tokyo via high bar. He can literally show up tomorrow and scratch, and then do the same in Doha, and bam, he’s our Olympian. It’s a real shame, because that down-to-the-second battle between Zonderland and Miyachi was what I was most looking forward to in the final moments of this series, but we can’t have nice things and this is just another example of that.

THE DETAILS

The competition begins Thursday, March 12, with qualifications on vault and bars for the women, and for floor, p-bars, and rings for the men, and then qualifications continue on Friday, March 13, with the women doing beam and floor while the men tackle vault, pommels, and high bar (yeah, I don’t know why they swap pommels and p-bars at this meet, and yes, I’m consistently enraged by it).

Finals will be held over the weekend, with the first day on Saturday, March 14, and the conclusion on Sunday, March 15. The event will be streamed on the Olympic Channel, and we’ll be live blogging all of the action for you.

A full list of competitors is below. Be warned, some have withdrawn due to travel restrictions or personal decisions related to the coronavirus, so I’ve tried to make this as up-to-date as possible, but it’s also likely that there are some gymnasts listed who will not end up competing.

ARGENTINA
Julian Jato
Federico Molinari
AUSTRALIA
James Bacueti
Tyson Bull
Mitchell Morgans
Georgia-Rose Brown
Emma Nedov
AZERBAIJAN
Murad Agharzayev
Javidan Babayev
Aghamurad Gahramanov
Ivan Tikhonov
Samira Gahramanova
Marina Nekrasova
BELARUS
Sviataslau Dranitski
Andrey Likhovitskiy
Yahor Sharamkou
Ganna Metelitsa
Anastasiya Savitskaya
Aliaksandra Varabyova
BRAZIL
Francisco Barretto
Arthur Zanetti
Rebeca Andrade
Thais Fidelis
Flavia Saraiva
BULGARIA
Yordan Aleksandrov
David Huddleston
CANADA
Thierry Pellerin Sophie Marois
Audrey Rousseau
CHILE
Tomas Gonzalez
CHINA
Lan Xingyu
Liu Yang
Weng Hao
You Hao
Fan Yilin
Guan Chenchen
Yin Sisi
Yu Linmin
CHINESE TAIPEI
Lee Chih-Kai
Lin Guan-Yi
Tseng Wei-Sheng
Lai Pin-Ju
CROATIA
Aurel Benovic
Robert Seligman
Filip Ude
Ana Derek
Tijana Korent
CUBA
Randy Leru Yesenia Ferrera
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
Audrys Nin Reyes
EGYPT
Ali Zahran
FINLAND
Oskar Kirmes
Emil Soravuo
Enni Kettunen
Lilian Langenskiöld
Sara Loikas
FRANCE
Loris Frasca
Cyril Tommasone
Coline Devillard
GEORGIA
Ioane Jimsheleishvili
Konstantin Kuzovkov
Bidzina Sitchinava
Levan Skhiladze
Maria Kharenkova
GERMANY
Alexander Maier
Dario Sissakis
GREAT BRITAIN
Joshua Nathan
Hayden Skinner
Courtney Tulloch
Ondine Achampong
Georgia-Mae Fenton
GREECE
Georgios Garivaldis
Nikolaos Iliopoulos
Christoforos Konstantinidis
Konstantinos Konstantinidis
Eleftherios Petrounias
Antonios Tantalidis
GUATEMALA
Jorge Vega Lopez
HONG KONG
Ng Kiu Chung
Shek Wai Hung
IRAN
Mahdi Ahmad Kohani
Saeedreza Keikha
ISRAEL
Andrey Medvedev
Alexander Myakinin
ITALY
Vanessa Ferrari
Lara Mori
JAPAN
Kazuki Minami
Takaaki Sugino
Hidenobu Yonekura
Urara Ashikawa
KAZAKHSTAN
Ilyas Azizov
Milad Karimi
Nariman Kurbanov
Farukh Nabiyev
Dmitriy Patanin
MEXICO
Isaac Nunez
Joshua Valle
Ana Lago
Ahtziri Sandoval
NETHERLANDS
Bart Deurloo
Frank Rijken
Casimir Schmidt
Bram Verhofstad
Epke Zonderland
Sanne Wevers
NEW ZEALAND
Ethan Dick
Mikhail Koudinov
Isabella Brett
Maia Fishwick
PHILIPPINES
Justine Ace de Leon
Jan Gwynn Timbang
Carlos Edriel Yulo
POLAND
Sebastian Gawronski
Filip Sasnal
Dawid Weglarz
Gabriela Janik
Marta Pihan-Kulesza
ROMANIA
Marian Dragulescu
RUSSIA
Sergei Eltsov
Vladislav Poliashov
Kirill Prokopev
Alexey Rostov
Anastasia Iliankova
Maria Paseka
Daria Spiridonova
Yana Vorona
SLOVENIA
Saso Bertoncelj
Rok Klavora
Luka Terbovsek
Teja Belak
Lucija Hribar
Tjasa Kysselef
SOUTH AFRICA
Naveen Daries
Caitlin Rooskrantz
SOUTH KOREA
Ryu Sung-hyun
Shin Jea-hwan
SPAIN
Thierno Diallo
Rayderley Zapata
SWITZERLAND
Marco Rizzo
Noe Seifert
Taha Serhani
TURKEY
Mustafa Arca
Ferhat Arican
Abdelrahman Magdy El Gamal
Yunus Gundogdu
Ahmet Onder
Umit Samiloglu
Ceren Biner
Cemre Kendirci
Nazli Savranbasi
Bilge Tarhan
Dilara Yurtdas
UKRAINE
Igor Radivilov Anastasiia Bachynska
Angelina Radivilova
UNITED STATES
Stephen Nedoroscik
VIETNAM
Dinh Phuong Thanh Tran Doan Quynh Nam

Article by Lauren Hopkins

18 thoughts on “World Cups Canceled, But Baku’s On This Weekend

  1. Thank you for doing this. Fantastic effort.

    There was a query about Jade’s spot as the final appartus cup event will now take place after the Pan Am Games. Previously of course the US would not have qualified an athlete via Pan Am because they would have had the non nomimative spot from AA world cup and Jade’s nominative spot. But if the US win the Pan Am now, they will have 2 non nom spots before the individual series has finished. Is there any indication as of yet about how the FIG or US gymnastics will be able manage this?

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    • So this is what I kind of was talking about in my paragraph about women’s vault where I was like Jade will be guaranteed this spot unless it all goes kaput…if Pan Ams happen and the all-around world cups happen, then yes, Jade could NOT be guaranteed a spot because the U.S. will have already earned two. The FIG hasn’t decided how to handle this, so that’s one reason I haven’t gotten into it yet, but the other reason is that we also don’t know if Pan Ams will get postponed or canceled entirely, and same with the Tokyo and Birmingham World Cups. With just Stuttgart now canceled, there are still three AA world cups, and so gymnasts can still qualify that way, but if Birmingham gets canceled, then there’s no AA world cup, which means the U.S. would only be eligible to earn individual spots at Pan Ams and the apparatus world cups. There’s basically too many “what ifs” in the situation right now so I’m just going to remain blissfully out of it until we have some clarification or know what exactly is happening going forward!

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      • Haha it’s so complicated. I’m hoping after this, they’ll just go back to the test event. Schools and colleges have just closed in the Republic of Ireland for 2 weeks so I’d be surprised if events like this here in the UK will still go ahead as it seems likely that we’ll be next. Crazy times. We watch and wait and hope we get an Olympics full stop.

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        • Honestly, with the way things are looking, there could be an issue with a test event depending on the country that is hosting and a possible number cases. This is completely unprecedented right now. In the US with no March Madness and professional sports suspended/canceled, it’s never happened before. Even with 9/11, sports were suspended for 1-2 weeks (that’s too far back for my brain to remember correctly), but nothing was flat out canceled like it is now.

          I understand the reasons why, but from an economic standpoint, this is even worse right now than the stock market dropping. Businesses will miss out on a lot of revenue from people attending the events. My fiance is a chef at one of the university’s and his hours are cut since the school is doing distance learning for the next two weeks.

          Nothing like this has ever happened in these kind of times, so I’m not surprised there are no contingencies, in place, and I hope they take the time necessary to put plans into effect that will make this fair for all athletes. And come 2024, learn from this and make sure the plans to qualify address a situation that is similar to this.

          Honestly, that’s the worst part about preparing for the worst. What is the worst? How bad can things get? We’ve had SARS, Zika, West Nile, and none of that ever spread like this has. Thinking of an epidemic of this is like Resident Evil-type of planning!

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        • Yes I can imagine. You’re quite right it’s the economies and business that suffer the most.

          The disease itself seems to be relatively mild for younger people without underlying conditions. But the need for quarantine is so unusual. I’ve never known anything like it as a virologist myself. But the reasoning is to delay the peak phase until after the winter season. Health services are still dealing with influenza for example. So it will be interesting to see how it develops.

          As far as Olympics goes for qualifications. I think they need to preserve the original qualifications order even if the events themselves occur ina different order as that’s what all the gymnasts worked towards. The only thing I wondered about a test event was if it could be staged in Tokyo near the start of the Olympics.

          We will see….

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        • Is your government providing any support for business? Ours have begun to reduce business rental costs. As well as paying for statutory sick pay for employees who are ill or in isolation (UK).

          Liked by 1 person

        • I think some businesses are paying there employees 14-days salary if they get sick without making them take sick days.

          NBA owner Mark Cuban who owns the Dallas Mavericks has said he is paying all of his employees during the shutdown.

          My fiance will be able to collect unemployment to make up (somewhat) for his loss of wages without it counting against him. Other than that, I’m not really sure.

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  2. I would be very interested to know what FIG will do.

    I think there needs to be compromise. But life needs to go on: closed competitions for the gymnasts should still be held. All the gymnasts would need to be quarantined for 14 days before and after each competition and also with testing done

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    • Yeah, or just hold them all at one neutral location! Say what you will about Doha, but that city LIVES for gymnastics and would be more than happy to take on those who are still undergoing the qualifying process. They’d probably set them up in free housing straight until Tokyo, and I’m not even joking…they could use those facilities for training and for various qualifiers, and wouldn’t need to worry about quarantine periods limiting them from training. FIG should reach out because I’m pretty sure they’d be super open to it.

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    • I think they are not afraid for gymnasts and their staff, that could easily make a quarantine, but they wouldn’t have a pubblic. Maybe they couldn’t get enough money to organise everything without the tickets money? Just supposing.

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  3. Would anyone be so kind as to remind me why Jade is likely to qualify through vault and not floor, even though she’s leading both?

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    • If a gymnast wins more than one event, she gets the event where her average score per individual routine is higher, and for Jade that is on Vault

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      • No, this is not correct. The scores between different events are not comparable. When two gymnasts from the same country win different events or one gymnast wins more than one event, the tie-break goes as follows:
        1) The highest average points on the respective apparatus from all competitions attended in the series prevails (meaning not only three best, but all competitions count).
        2) If there is still a tie, the best average rank on the respective apparatus in the Qualifications of all competitions attended prevails.
        The rules can be found on the FIG site under Rules – Olympic Qualification. The tie-break rules can be found by following the link inside the Qualification Rules.
        Jade’s average points on VT is 28.75 (25+30+30+30)/4 and on FX is 27 (18+30+30+30)/4, so she gets VT spot and the FX spot goes to the second best.

        Liked by 1 person

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