Track cycling quotas for the upcoming Summer Olympics in Rio have been allocated by the Union Cycliste Internationale to 36 National Olympic Committees, including seven from Asia.
The in-progress velodrome in Barra Olympic Park (foreground, centre) | Image: Heusi Action
China, Hong Kong, Japan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Malaysia and Taiwan have all received allocations for track cycling events which will take place at the Olympic Velodrome in Barra from 11-16 August.
With the exception of Iran*, which did not receive any quota places, all countries are returning to the Olympics following their participation at the 2012 Games in London. [*Correction: though a place was reserved for Iran in the Men’s Keirin in 2012, this did not transpire and no Iranian track cyclist competed in London]
From Oceania, Australia received maximum quota places for all events with New Zealand one place shy of receiving a full allocation.
All NOC’s have until 21 March to confirm their use of allocated quota places. Any allocations not taken up will be redistributed by the Tripartite Commission as a Tripartite Commission Invitation Place. The Commission determines which NOC should be offered these places according to criteria such as sporting merit, ‘Universality’ (an IOC principle which allows more NOC’s to participate in a given sport), continental balance, gender equity and technical ability.
Each NOC is responsible for disseminating awarded quota places to individual athletes with announcements typically made in the 2-3 months prior to the Olympics.
Across Asia, track cycling is usually seen as a more viable ticket to Olympic and Regional Games than road cycling. India offers one example of a national cycling federation which has increased its focus on track cycling at the expense of road, while the rosters of all five Continental road cycling teams from Korea are fully, or significantly, comprised of national-level track cyclists.
While it is reassuring to see the same Asian countries competing at successive Olympics, the stable roll call betrays the fact that other countries either struggle to make the grade at World Cup level or don’t prioritise track cycling. However, the return of the Olympics to Asia in 2020 does appear to have stoked some interest, with India one country hoping to send an athlete to Tokyo.