Addition by subtraction: Participation doubles up in Dubai

Mixed team action at the 2019 World Archery Para Championships

Next week’s World Archery Para Championships in Dubai will include the debut of the new doubles format.

This competition, featuring single-gender two-archer partnerships, replaces the former three-athlete team events in the schedule and follows the same rules as the already-existing mixed team.

The change was voted in by World Archery’s executive board in October 2021.

According to the World Archery Rulebook, any team event needs a minimum of four nations to be viable – and for a world championship title to be awarded. Given continued issues with travel and based on the original entry list for next week’s championships in Dubai, the new regulations ensure that all six competitions which originally required three archers per team – in the compound, recurve and W1 divisions – are now able to take place.

Had three archers still been required then only three of those six events would run, with the recurve women’s team and both W1 team events not meeting the criteria.

Now, historically and aside from the pandemic, minimum participation has not been an issue, except perhaps in the W1 events. But finding three world-class athletes in the same classification category has always been a blocker for many smaller or even medium para squads. It’s always been the same nations participating – and, accordingly, the same few winning.

In Dubai, an extra 50 athletes – 40 women and 10 men – will participate in the doubles events, compared to if they remained as teams.

That’s because the number of eligible squads has more than doubled, from a possible 29 (as teams) to a confirmed 65 (as doubles). Countries like Spain, India, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Poland and Ukraine will field pairings in events they would have otherwise had to have sit out. 

Division Men
Teams (3 archers)
Doubles (2 archers)
Teams (3 archers)
Doubles (2 archers)
Compound 15 22 4 12
Recurve 7 13 1 9
W1 2 5 0 4
Totals 24 40 5 25


“These championships are important, not just because they mark a return after the pandemic,” said chair of World Archery’s para committee Dominique Ohlmann during a press conference held last week in Dubai launching the championships. “But because the debut of doubles marks a great step forward in balancing gender participation in para archery.”

The archery competitions at the Olympic Games have been split equally between men and women since the introduction of the quota system while the Paralympic events are weighted towards men. It’s a stated goal of World Archery to reach parity.

“Increasing the availability of the team events, by reducing the number of athletes needed to participate, has already opened the door for wider exposure. It’s not only making the competitions viable in challenging circumstances but encouraging federations to invest in para athletes,” added Ohlmann.

Doubles already looks like a success. What impact is has on the medal table remains to be seen.

The 13th edition of the World Archery Para Championships takes place on 21-27 February 2022 at the Club for People of Determination in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.