ED Blog #5 – Will we see Canadian Climbers at the Paris Olympics in 2024?

Jun 23, 2023

Oh the Olympic dream! It’s one that burns strong in our hearts. The Tokyo Olympics were such an achievement for our athletes and staff and we cannot wait to see our Canadian athletes walk the opening ceremonies at the Paris Games. In order to get there, many steps and decisions must be made, starting right now.

You can read the complete Paris Qualification Systems on the IFSC website. It is important to note that the Olympic Format has changed since Tokyo, and that the IFSC are frequently adjusting their rules and process to adapt to the requirements of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). In turn, the CEC is also forced, often unexpectedly, to continuously adjust our own published rules and process in order to give our athletes the best chance at success.

Here is a summary of how it will play out for Canadians athletes based on the current situation.

How many athletes could Canada qualify for the Games?

There will be two disciplines for Climbing in the Paris Games: Combined (boulder and lead), and Speed. There are 20 spots in Combined per gender (40 total), and 14 sports for Speed per gender (28 total) across all countries. Each country’s National Olympic Committee (NOC) can qualify a maximum of 2 male and 2 female in each discipline. The maximum athletes Canada could send is therefore 8 athletes.

What are the Qualifications Events for the Paris Olympics?

Athletes can qualify during 3 events:

  • At the 2023 World Championships Combined event in Bern (SUI), August 1 to 12, 2023
  • At the 2023 Pan Am Games in Santiago (CHI), October 20 to November 5, 2023
  • During the 2024 Olympic Qualifying Series (OQS) events, March-June 2024 (dates and locations to be determined)

Canada will have the best chance of qualifying athletes during the OQS, when multiple countries (e.g. such as Japan, USA, Slovenia, France), may likely have already filled their Olympic Quotas at previous events.

A breakdown of how the available Olympic spots are allocated by qualifying even/process is in the chart below:

*The intent of the Universality Place is to support countries that can’t attend qualification events for various reasons. If this position is now assigned by the IFSC, it will be added to the quotas available during the OQS.

**Canada’s Continental Event is the 2023 PanAm Games, and 1 quota will be available per gender per discipline. There are 5 Continental Events under the IFSC’s jurisdiction.

How will CEC select athletes for the upcoming qualification events?

From here, CEC needs to reverse engineer the selection process to maximize the number of athletes invited to the OQS events, therefore increasing our chances of our athletes qualifying for the Olympics.

Invitations to the OQS are based on the IFSC Continuously Updating World Rankings (CUWR). The Top 32 athletes in Speed CUWR and the Top 48 athletes in Combined CUWR will be invited to the OQS, only if they have not yet qualified for Paris or maxed out their NOC quotas. That means that, for example, if 10 athletes in the Top 48 have already been qualified, or if their county has already filled out their quotas, athletes in positions 49 to 58 will also be invited.

Therefore, the priority for the Canadian High Performance Program is to give out World Cups and World Championships places based on the goal to accumulate as many points (Combined or Speed) as possible.

For Speed, this is fairly straightforward: by attending a Speed World Cup or the Speed World Championships AND finishing in the Top 80, athletes receive points based on their final standing.

For Combined, it’s a bit more complicated. Recent IFSC rule interpretation change state that to appear on the CUWR Combined, athletes must collect CUWR Lead and Boulder points, by:

  • Attending at least one Boulder World Cup AND one Lead World Cup AND finishing in the Top 80 in each; OR
  • Attending at least one Boulder World Cup OR one Lead World Cup AND attending the World Championships in Boulder and in Lead AND finishing in the Top 80 in each

The “OR” is very important here: you can’t mix and match. For example, you can’t collect points at a World Cup Boulder event, and hope to collect points in Lead at the World Championship to get your first Combined Ranking, unless you already have a Combined CUWR. If you don’t already have a Combined CUWR, this table applies:

This is to show the complexity of the selection process. And believe us, there is more to take into consideration, such as the expiration date of previously collected CUWR points, best Olympic Cohort (Paris, LA2028, Brisbane 2032, etc).

Who makes the decisions on Canadian athlete event attendance?

CEC’s High Performance Director, Andrew Wilson, along with our National Team Coaches (Malek Taleb and Libor Hroza) continuously review our Event Selection Guidelines, as well as the overall objectives and changing IFSC landscapes, to maximize projections of success for Team Canada. They also consider athletes readiness and injuries, results projections, and best chances of qualifying for Paris.

On occasions, the CEC Board of Directors have also been consulted regarding specific situations where decisions had to be made outside of the written guidelines. These situations may have been the results of injuries, changes in the IFSC rules, adjusted projections, etc. The Board approved a motion that as long as the following objectives are met, the High Performance Team could make decisions that are fair and equitable for the program.

In Conclusion

Athlete Selection to IFSC Events, and Olympic Qualification process is very complicated. At the end of the day, decisions made with the broader guidelines in mind obviously affect athletes individually, for the better or worse. The pressure is real, the challenges are complex. CEC is upholding principles of fairness, equity, and transparency in the process.

Please let me know if you have any questions on this VERY complex challenge.

Sincerely,

Christiane Marceau
YOUR Executive Director
ed@climbingcanada.ca

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