Image Credit: Steven Moore-Vountas

So the first question I was asked is a very good one. How do you qualify for the Olympics and why do you need a different ranking to the official FIE ranking?

This page will are maintaining a unofficial ranking list only taking into account competitions that count for qualification. The season starts in April 2019 and runs to 4 April 2020.

The ranking includes the best 4 (teams) or 5 (individual) results at world cups, grand prix and satellites, plus zonal championships, plus world championships.

How do the athletes and teams qualify? It’s a little complicated. It’s a little bit different to last time as well (we’ll talk about that another time) but the easy thing to remember is now that we have 12 medals at the Olympics for the first time, the qualification process is the same for all the different weapons.

Most of the fencers at the Olympics qualify through the team rankings. If a country qualifies as a team it can choose any three fencers to fence in both the individual and team events. There is also a reserve fencer for the team event (which operates a little differently to normal).

The top 4 teams in the world in each weapon qualify for the Olympics. Then, the next best team in each zone qualifies for the Olympics, but only if the team is in the top 16 in the world rankings, otherwise the highest ranked team not already qualified takes their place.

So if you don’t qualify through the teams, there is a pathway as an individual. We create a new ranking, removing all the fencers from countries who have already qualified a team. With a maximum of one per country, the top 2 fencers from Europe and Asia, and the top fencer from the Pan-American and African zones qualify for the Olympics.

There is one more chance to qualify if you haven’t made it yet. There is a zonal qualifier, where only the winner will qualify for the Olympics. Each country can send a fencer to the zonal qualifier if it hasn’t already qualified a fencer via either the team or individual pathways in that weapon.

As the host nation, Japan will get 8 additional places on top of any fencers that qualify already. They are able to enter a team if they use those places to select three individuals.

In the (unlikely) event that Japan qualifies so many fencers that it doesn’t need to use its 8 additional places, those qualification places will be decided by the Tripartite Commission – typically either to high ranked athletes who were “unlucky” to miss out, or for universality places.

The full qualification rules can be found here if you are interested.

Also, many thanks to Steven for the stunning infographic I’ve used as the picture. The high-quality pdf can be downloaded here.

More to come over the next weeks, and then the 12 month qualification cycle. Please share with your fencing friends!

This post is the first in a series by David Baker, originally posted on the Tokyo 2020 Qualification Facebook Page and reproduced here with permission. Visit the Facebook page to discuss or even chat directly with David if you have any qualification questions!