Olympics Relay Qualification For 2024 Games in Paris Could Feature Unfair Setup (Updated)

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Olympics Relay Qualification For 2024 Games in Paris Could Feature Unfair Setup

British Swimming head coach Bill Furniss says “fairness is fundamental in sport” after it emerged that national federations will have to qualify relay teams for the Paris Olympics at the Doha worlds in January 2024.

The current practice is for 12 relay teams to qualify at the World Championships 12 months ahead of the Games with a further four booking their slot at FINA-approved qualification events.

However, sources say FINA has stated only the top-three finishers in each relay will qualify at the 2023 worlds in Fukuoka, Japan, with the remaining slots to be filled in Doha, six months ahead of the Games.

This will result in an immediate advantage for some nations given their strength in depth and likelihood they would seal relay spots in Fukuoka in July 2023, meaning there would be no trip to Doha.

The USA finished on the podium at the Budapest worlds in every relay that is on the Olympic programme with Australia on all but one.

Qualifying relays in Fukuoka would mean an uninterrupted preparation for Paris while other countries would have to send their elite teams – prepared and rested – to Doha in early 2024.

When asked in Budapest, Furniss said:

“I don’t know because that might not happen so that’s a hypothetical question.

“I think we have to be fair in sport and I think if that was to happen, then it would be very unfair on all the swimmers in relays who are not qualified top three. We’ll see what happens.

“To me, it would be a question of fairness. I think if you qualify top three, it’s obvious to me that if that did happen, those teams would be at an advantage to everybody else.

“So hopefully we’ll see how that plays out but fairness is fundamental in sport.

“I haven’t heard much about that: I’ve heard a few rumours here but I’m hoping the federations sit down and some sensible talks take place.”

On reaching out to FINA, the governing body said:

“We cannot speculate publicly on the Olympic Qualification System for Paris 2024 before it is final.”

They did though state their commitment to addressing concerns directly with federations and coaches while revealing dialogue  already taking place.

“More than ever, FINA is committed to ensuring that all voices and opinions are heard and represented equally.

FINA has already discussed the proposed qualification system with many athletes, coaches and administrators and such conversations are ongoing.”

Paris will take place just months after Doha following the rejigging of the schedule after the one-year delay to the Tokyo Games.

This saw Fukuoka initially rescheduled to May 2022 only for the event to be pushed back once more to 2023, when Doha had been due to stage the long-course worlds.

Doha was rearranged for January 2024 – prompting Adam Peaty to ask:

“Does there need to be 3 World/Olympic Championships within 12 months though? Could be a good opportunity for @fina1908  to try something new within that time frame Man shrugging

Kazan, Russia, are set to be hosts in 2025 as the event returns to its regular two-year cycle.

However, Russia are banned for the foreseeable future following the invasion of Ukraine and it’s difficult to see them being readmitted to world sport given Vladimir Putin‘s murderous intent.

Given the circumstances, it would appear preferable for Doha to be switched to 2025 rather than have worlds and Olympics in the space of seven months in 2024.

Of whether that would be possible, FINA added:

“FINA’s concerns remain a peaceful resolution to the war and support for the Ukrainian aquatics community for as long as it is needed. It is not able to comment any further at this time.”

Furniss said of the close proximity of Doha and Paris:

“It would be very difficult, very difficult indeed, if that’s the case (Doha in January of Olympic year).

“It’s something we would have to sit down with our athletes and coaches and look at.

“So, I haven’t made any calls on it and I’m not ducking the question, but to put a World Championships and Olympics in the same year? It’s challenging.

“So that’s something we will have to sit down and look at. It could even move so we’ll see.”



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Jay Enn
1 year ago

Why bother with qualification? Allow as many teams to compete as are willing to travel to the Games. Is one extra heat going to delay the schedule by that much?

1 year ago
Reply to  Jay Enn

Do you want a team comprised of 4 Erik “the Eel’s”? It should a least be a requirement that the participants can swim 🙂

robert kravutske
1 year ago
Reply to  Kim

kim kim kim……why all the hate…….we know the olympics are a dog and pony show for most swimmers…….”look at us……we invited 3 rd world dirty people” to show our love of the sport!!!!!…….but the u.s. can only send 2 swimmers per event……even though sometimes we have the top 3 swimmers in an event……crap…..just keep those commies home in russia!!!!!!now that is fun!!!!

1 year ago
Reply to  Jay Enn

Ever heard about the cap on number of athletes (swimmers)? In Tokyo being it 878 (in Paris it will be 852) athletes of which 148 were “relay only” (with 16 relays in each Event).

robert kravutske
1 year ago
Reply to  Swammer

swammer…..you are up on the stuff!!!!!…..is that a michigan hat in your picture???…….best 8 w – 5 L football team in merika!!!!…..but I love their swimming…..ncaa champs in 6 different decades!!!!…..take that texas……

1 year ago
Reply to  Jay Enn

I think there are multiple ways to qualify. You can automatically qualify with your country’s results at the last worlds. If you don’t qualify that way, there is a qualifying time and a cap on the number of teams that can compete. So, it’s sort of like the NCAA B qualifying times where you might make it into the meet with a B cut, but you might not depending on how you are ranked.