Beginners’ guide to the Olympic qualification process for Tokyo 2020

There are a limited number of spaces for athletes across all sports at each Olympic Games. Since 1996, archery has had 128 spots for 64 men and 64 women. A qualification system that includes multiple international events decides who fills the places.

The process officially starts at the 2019 World Archery Championships and ends with the final qualifying tournament, held just weeks before the Olympics begin. 

In the case of archery at Tokyo 2020, qualification practically begins a little earlier – with the mixed team and individual results from the Jakarta 2018 Asian Games. It’s one of a couple of changes to the system used for the last Olympics in Rio.

This is a simpler explanation of how archers will qualify for Tokyo 2020.

64 per gender

  • 28 places at 2019 World Archery Championships (eight teams and four individuals)
  • 8 places at continental Games (five mixed team, top individuals in Asia, Europe and Americas)
  • 13 places at continental qualifying tournaments
  • 10 places at final qualifying tournament
  • 3 places for host country
  • 2 universality invitations

Who wins the place?

Athletes that win a place in competition will not necessarily attend the Olympics. Quotas are assigned to a National Olympic Committee who must accept the spot, and subsequently nominate the athlete that fills it.

Schedule of events

The qualification system follows a strict principle that nations can either qualify a team of three athletes or an individual athlete. There’s no way of sending two archers of the same gender to the Games.

So it’s a full team of three or a single individual – or nobody.

August 2018 - Asian Games

The top-ranked mixed team and top three individuals win places for their country, although they are not officially allocated until after the world championships. 

June 2019 – World Archery Championships

The top eight teams win places. The top four individuals from nations that are not already qualified with a team win places for their country. 

Places won at the Asian Games are officially allocated in retrospect, with any extra places returned.

(Eligibility is limited to finishers within the top four. Any extra places are returned.)

Summer 2019 – Continental Games

At the Pan American and European Games, the top-ranked mixed team and top individual that are not already qualified by another method win places for their country. At the African and Pacific Games, the top-ranked mixed team not already qualified by another method wins places.

(Eligibility is limited to finishers within the top four. Any extra places are returned.)

If a country already has one of the two gender quota places from the world championships and qualifies a mixed team place, the additional gender spot is awarded and the duplicate gender place transferred to the individual event.

Summer 2019-Spring 2020 – Continental events

Continent-specific qualification tournaments are held only for countries without any quota places; the top ranked individuals win places for their country. There are a different number of places available for each continent:

  • Europe: 4
  • Asia: 3
  • Americas: 3
  • Africa: 2
  • Oceania: 1

Summer 2020 – Final qualification tournament

Only nations that don’t already have quotas are able to compete in the final qualification tournaments. (Nations without a team quota can compete in the team tournament; nationals without an individual quota can compete in the individual tournament.)

Of those without a team qualified, the top three in the final team qualifying tournament are awarded places. (This rises to four if hosts Japan qualify at either the World Archery Championships or this final tournament.) Any individual quotas that a qualifying team already possessed are returned.

Of those without a team or individual qualified, the top-ranked individuals in the final individual qualifying tournament are awarded places. There is initially a single individual quota spot available, but this is supplemented by any quotas returned throughout the qualification process.

The final qualification tournament for Tokyo will be held at the Berlin stage of the Hyundai Archery World Cup in 2020.

July 2020 – Universality spaces

Two places are given to countries from a list identified by the International Olympic Committee in order to support sport development and equality. This happens at every Olympics – has previously helped archers from Bhutan, Bangladesh and Malawi – and helps progress the competitive ambitions of emerging sporting nations.

Minimum standard

To fill a quota place, an athlete must have also reached a minimum performance level. This is a score on the recurve 72-arrow 70-metre ranking round that each athlete must have shot in world record status competition during the qualification time period.

For Tokyo 2020, the minimum score for men is 640 out of a possible 720 points; for women it is 605.

Naming Olympians

There’s an official process in lead up to the Olympic Games where National Olympic Committees first confirm quota places, then confirm athletes. Each nation may pick its Olympians however it chooses – and there is huge variation in the selection processes from country to country.

World Archery tracks team announcements whenever they are made to keep a list of the Olympic archers at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

The archery competitions at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games begin on 24 July.