The Olympic Games Qualification Tournament for artistic swimming has been postponed for a second time.
The meet, already rescheduled from 2020, was set for March 4-7, 2021 in Tokyo. It will now take place on May 1-4, 2021.
Japanese media Kyodo News first published the information about the second delay earlier today. The International Swimming Federation (FINA) released an official statement on the matter at the end of the day.
FINA stated that the decision to postpone was agreed upon for a variety of reasons, including the entry restrictions currently imposed in the country, as well as “assisting the on-going efforts in Japan to come out of the current situation as soon as possible,” and “ensuring the fairest possible conditions for athletes to participate in this qualification event, as some necessary preparations may not have been possible given the latest COVID-19 situation in, and for, participating nations.”
Japan has seen dramatic rises in COVID cases in the past few weeks, leading to its highest levels since the start of the pandemic. The government declared a state of emergency at the beginning of January in Tokyo and its surrounding areas.
It was expanded to more prefectures a week later, as the nation also closed its borders to all nonresident foreign nationals. The state of emergency is in effect until February 7, but may be extended until at least the end of February.
Athletes and officials coming to Japan to compete or train for the Games would originally have been excluded from the entry ban, pending proof of negative COVID-19 tests. However, the Japanese government decided to end this privilege in mid-January as part of its emergency measures.
The qualifiers were originally scheduled for April 30 – May 3, 2020. The pandemic and the postponement of the Tokyo Games to 2021 obviously pushed the event back by one year.
There are still three team and seven duet spots up for grabs. This is another blow to the athletes who had rescheduled their training plans, and much of their lives, around the March event.
FINA’s full official statement is available below:
“Following consultations between the different bodies involved in the organisation of the “FINA Artistic Swimming Olympic Games Qualification Tournament 2021”, scheduled for 4-7 March, it has been decided to postpone the event to 1-4 May at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre.
The decision to postpone was taken for a number of reasons including assisting the on-going efforts in Japan to come out of the current situation as soon as possible. Further reasons were ensuring the fairest possible conditions for athletes to participate in this Olympic qualification event, as some necessary preparations may not have been possible given the latest COVID-19 situation in, and for, participating nations as well as some of the entry restrictions currently imposed in Japan.
The other FINA qualification events to be held in Japan this year – 2021 FINA Diving World Cup from 18-23 April and Marathon Swimming in Fukuoka from 29-30 May 2021 – remain unaffected.”
Article by Christina Marmet
Cover photo by Giorgio Scala / Deepbluemedia.
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