The international swimming federation, FINA, has cancelled three major aquatics events in Tokyo — which were supposed to double up as Olympic test events — dealing a massive blow to the organisers of the quadrennial Games.
A one-line statement on the swimming federation website www.fina.org, read, “The decision of re-allocating the FINA Olympic Qualifiers planned in Japan is under review. An announcement will be made next week.”
The cancelled test events are the FINA Diving World Cup 2021 (April 18-23), the FINA Olympic Games Artistic Swimming Qualification Tournament (May 1-4) and the FINA Olympic Marathon Swim Qualifiers (May 29-30).
While the Diving World Cup was to serve as an Olympic qualifying competition in 3m springboard and 10m platform in both individual and synchronised events, the Olympic Games Artistic Swimming Qualification Tournament was to allocate the last available slots for participation at the Tokyo Games.
The Diving World Cup had a bagful of quota places for Olympic aspirants — four spots in each synchronised diving discipline and a total of 18 slots in individual events, while the Olympic Games Artistic Swimming Qualification Tournament was offering three final spots in the women’s team event and seven in the women’s duet.
The biggest blow, though, has come for aspirants wanting to secure a Tokyo berth in the marathon swim event, where the event was to take place at the Seaside Momochi Beach Park in Fukuoka over a distance of 10km. A total of 15 places were at stake for both men and women. The nine highest- placed athletes for each event were to obtain one quota place.
Japan has seen a surge in Covid-19 cases in recent days and the decision to cancel the events is being attributed to that. FINA and Tokyo Olympic Games organisers are expected to discuss the matter of cancellation and re-allocation in a few days, according to reports.