Our rankings focus on the 204 athletes (102 men and 102 women) that will qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics Games in Fencing, but under our qualification system there are an additional 8 Host Country Places to take the total number of fencers to 212.

These places are entirely discretionary on the host nation (Japan in this case) and are in additional to the places earned in qualification. As you can see in the table above, at the last 4 Olympic Games the host nations have used all their 8 places – with the exception of China who only needed to use 2 places to maximise their full quota (remember that there were no Men’s Foil Teams or Women’s Epee Teams in Beijing so the maximum quota was 2 athletes).

If the host nation hasn’t qualified through the team route, they can add the additional individual fencers and can also enter a team. This means there will be 9 teams qualified for that weapon. You can see examples of this in Men’s Epee, Women’s Epee and Men’s Sabre in Rio, and Men’s and Women’s Foil in London.

It’s worth noting that this selection all happens after the qualification season. It doesn’t change qualifying at all knowing that Japan have 8 extra places, but obviously the more fencers Japan can qualify directly the better for them.

In Beijing 2008, China only needed 2 of their 8 host nation places. In the event this happens then the remaining places are selected by a committee called the “Tripartite Commission”. It doesn’t happen particularly often, but the places are typically either given to ‘unlucky’ strong fencers who missed out or for universality places from smaller fencing nations. In 2008, the extra places were given to Richard Kruse (GBR), Emma Samuelsson (SWE), Khalid Al Hamadi (QAT), Indra Angad-Gaur (NED), María Luisa Doig Calderón (PER), and Julien Ouedraogo (BUR).

So do we think there will be any additional places available in Tokyo? Let’s look at where it stands today: Japan would qualify teams in Men’s Foil, and are currently outside the qualification rankings in Men’s Sabre, Men’s Epee, Women’s Epee, Women’s Foil, Women’s Sabre. This suggests that without serious improvement we won’t have any additional places for the 2020 Olympics.

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!