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In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, World Athletics has suspended the Olympic qualification window.

The qualifying window is now scheduled to open on December 1, 2020.

World Athletics President, Sebastian Coe said: “I am grateful for the detailed work and feedback from our Athletes’ Commission and Council who believe suspending Olympic qualification during this period gives more certainty for athlete planning and preparation and is the best way to address fairness in what is expected to be the uneven delivery of competition opportunities across the globe for athletes given the challenges of international travel and government border restrictions.”

The decision was arrived at after Coe consulted with the Council and the Athletes Commission.

World Athletics is honouring marks that were achieved inside the original qualification window that began in 2019.

The world ranking system, which provides a different way to qualify for the Games is also suspended.

The original dates were Jan. 1, 2019 to May 31, 2020, for the marathons and 50K race walk. The Olympics were to start on July 24, 2020. They will now take place starting July 23, 2021. The qualification window re-opens Dec. 1, 2020, and closes June 29, 2021.

The suspending of the qualification window is an effort to provide athletes in some countries an equal opportunity to qualify as the pandemic runs its course – not everyone has the same training opportunities.

Athletes that have already qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games (nearly half) will not need to re-qualify.

SHOESTRINGS: According to the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), athletes who dope between now and the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympics risk being banned from that event and the Games in Paris four years later.

The AIU handles doping cases for World Athletics. Drug testing has been reduced or halted in some countries leading to fears that athletes may take advantage of the opportunity to dope.

The AIU warned competitors who cheat before Tokyo 2020 (2021) that they could miss two consecutive Games if they are caught, doping offences carry a ban of four years.