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How do you qualify for an Olympics?

Updated: Jun 18, 2021

The burning question - how do you qualify for the Winter Olympics in Beijing? I get asked a lot and do my very best to explain; not as simple as “being in the top 25 nations”, it is important to understand the complexities.

Is Israel definitely going to the Olympics?

Qualification is in no way guaranteed for any country. Achieving the criteria has changed this cycle and is set out by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), International Bobsleigh & Skeleton Federation and the Israeli National Olympic Committee (NOC); among a field of hugely talented and experienced athletes, it is tough to make the cut.

It would be sugar-coating things if not to admit that the unexpected impacts of coronavirus have not added an extra degree of challenge.

"It's definitely not going to be a walk in the park, it's not going to be easy at all, but it's a challenge that I'm really ready to stand up and face. The opportunity is there - I've been working really hard to set my team up around me, so that we're going to tackle this in the best strategic way.” Georgie Cohen, BBC Sport (5 April 2021)

Pyeongchang Olympic Museum

How is Olympic qualification determined?

Beijing 2022 will be the first Winter Olympics where there is an equal amount of race spots available for men and for women; a total of 25 spots for men and 25 for women. In all previous Olympic skeleton events, there were 30 men’s spots and only 20 women’s spots.

The qualification period starts from the first race in November and will be determined by the final standing in the IBSF rankings on the last race in January 2022. This is the same as the World Cup standard criteria. “The chosen athletes must be ranked among the top 60 men or top 45 women of the IBSF Ranking List of the 2021/2022 season by 16 January 2022.” With the Games taking place on 4-20 February 2022, it goes down to the wire!

The individual must also have raced in 8 races in 3 different locations within a period of 2 years (24 months). We call this “the 8:3:2”.

Distribution of allocated spots:

The next part determines the country allocation places - which countries are given the 25 spots available at the Olympic Games.

Women’s allocation:

2 NOCs with 3 athletes

4 NOCs with 2 athletes

11 NOCs with 1 athlete

This means that the top two countries in the IBSF ranking within the top 45 women will send three athletes to the games. The next best four countries will send two athletes and the remaining 11 countries within the top 45 will be given one space. As the only female athlete on our team, I will be targeting one of those 11 spots.

Included within the 25 spots, the host nation will be awarded one. They will of course have the chance to qualify more.

Men’s allocation:

2 NOCs with 3 athletes

6 NOCs with 2 athletes

7 NOCs with 1 athlete

This means that the top two countries in the IBSF ranking within the top 60 men will send three athletes to the games. The next best six countries will send two athletes and the remaining countries within the top 60 will be given one space. I wish both my teammates Jared and Joel the best of luck that they can both qualify for two spots in the final rankings.

In the overall IBSF athlete rankings (based on 2019/20 results), there are 150 male athletes and 117 women

On top of this IBSF and IOC criteria, the National Olympic Committees (NOCs) can set their own criteria for their national athletes to achieve. This means that despite achieving the already-demanding criteria set by the IOC and IBSF, an athlete may have additional criteria to achieve.

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