Today, the IFSC announced that two appeals from the Japan Mountaineering and Sport Climbing Association (JMSCA) have been dismissed by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). As a result, the roster for the Japanese Olympic team is now set. Tomoa Narasaki, Kai Harada, Akiyo Noguchi, and Miho Nonaka will represent their country at the 2020 Tokyo games (now scheduled for summer 2021). The dispute was regarding the athlete selection process. Had the JMSCA won their appeal, Harada and Nonaka may not have received Olympic berths.
The details of the dispute are a little confusing.
The first Olympic qualifying event for climbers was the 2019 IFSC World Championships in Hachioji, Japan. The top eight winners for each gender in Hachioji received Olympic berths, with a limit of two athletes per gender, per country. Tomoa Narasaki, Kai Harada, Akiyo Noguchi, and Miho Nonaka were the top Japanese competitors at that event. They all qualified to be eligible to receive Olympic berths from the JMSCA.
According to the JMSCA’s interpretation of the Olympic selection rules, two more of their athletes per gender could qualify to be eligible for the Olympic team at the later Toulouse Qualifying Event, and then one more per gender could qualify at the Asian Championships (now cancelled). So while Japan would send two men and two women to the Olympics, they believed five men and five women could become eligible for those spots.
As the host country for the 2020 Olympics, Japan has the ability to award Olympic berths to one athlete per gender. This process is separate from the standard qualification process, but they are still subject to the two athlete per country per gender cap.
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The JMSCA planned to award Olympic spots to the top two athletes from the Hachioji event (one male and one female), which were Narasaki and Noguchi. Then, instead of adding Harada and Nonaka to the team, they seemed to believe that they could choose from any one of the remaining four Japanese athletes that qualified to be eligible for their Olympic team. These would ultimately be decided at a national selection event, using those host-country slots.
The IFSC’s stance was that the JMSCA was required to offer Olympic berths to Harada and Nonaka for their performance at Hachioji. In dismissing the appeals, the CAS has sided with the IFSC. Kai Harada and Miho Nonaka will be a part of the Japanese team at the Tokyo Olympics.
“The resolution of this procedure closes a painful chapter, one that, for the first time in history, saw the National Federation of the country hosting the Olympic Games appeal against the qualification of two of its own athletes,” read a statement from the IFSC. Read the full statement below.
The International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC) welcomes the decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which has dismissed in their entirety both appeals filed by the Japan Mountaineering and Sport Climbing Association (JMSCA) against the IFSC Qualification System application.
The resolution of this procedure closes a painful chapter, one that, for the first time in history, saw the National Federation of the country hosting the Olympic Games appeal against the qualification of two of its own athletes. As a result of this decision, the integrity and fairness of the IFSC Qualification System, as approved by the IOC, have been confirmed.
In spite of the favourable outcome, the IFSC remains committed to improving relationships with all its stakeholders going forward and will always put the athletes first.
The IFSC regrets the unilateral communications disruption caused by the JMSCA in late 2019, which resulted in a deplorable waste of resources.
IFSC President Marco Scolaris said:
“All qualified athletes are now protected—this is what counts. now it is time to focus on sport, and face the challenges brought about by the pandemic, a new year will soon be upon us, and our participation at the next two olympic games is confirmed.”
The IFSC will not make any further comment on the matter.