IFSC Sued by Japanese Climbing Federation and Athlete Invitations “Frozen”


Edited Nov. 7 based on further correspondence with the IFSC

According to 8a.nu, IFSC recently sent out the 40 athlete invitations to the next Olympic qualifying event in Toulouse. A few days later, IFSC made a rule change and several of those invitations were consequently revoked. 

Jérôme Meyer, head of IFSC’s Olympic Commission, passed the following information along to Gym Climber:

“Following a review of Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games Qualification System (QS) application occurred today together with the Tokyo 2020 Sport Entry, with regard to the 2019 IFSC Combined Qualifier in Toulouse (FRA) from 28 November to 1 December, please take note of an important amendment that now applies to the 2019 IFSC Combined Qualifier regulations (Qualification System), as reported in the event info sheet and on the IFSC rules section of the website.”  [Bold added by Gym Climber]

That amendment is that IFSC will not impose a two invitations per country limit for the Toulouse event. This change would mean that several athletes that would not have been invited because they exceeded the previous limit, including Margo Hayes (who was ranked behind Kyra Condie and Ashima Shiraishi), will receive invitations. It also means that athletes that thought they had secured invites will be bumped out.

According to Gym Climber’s understanding of the rule change, four athletes whose invitations were revoked were Sandra Lettner (AUT), Luliia Kaplina (RUS), Jernej Kruder (SLO), and Aleksei Rubtsov (RUS). Thinking that they had already secured their tickets to Toulouse, neither Kruder nor Rubtsov bothered to compete in the last Lead World Cup, meaning their ranking was not as high as it could have been had they competed.

With this rule change, five Americans will be invited to Toulouse: Kyra Condie, Ashima Shiraishi, Margo Hayes, Nathaniel Coleman and Sean Bailey. The 40 athletes below should receive invitations to Toulouse, though IFSC would not confirm the list. 

As things stand, Meyer said, “We froze the [athlete] list [while] checking with National Federations the situations, until the registration deadline for that event.”

In addition to the rule change regarding athlete quota in Toulouse, the IFSC has released an addendum that affects the Japanese climbing federation’s use of their host country spot. The Japanese Mountains and Sports Climbing Association’s (JMSCA) original interpretation of the IFSC rules would allow them to essentially qualify their athletes for the Olympics at all three Olympic qualifying event. By their interpretation, they would have a pool of five athletes per gender (two from the World Championships, two from Toulouse and one from the Asian Championships) to choose from. If they named one athlete per gender (Tomoa Narasaki and Akiyo Noguchi) from the World Championships as their Olympic picks, then they essentially protected their host country spot until the end of the selection process. However, because the JMSCA named two athletes per gender for the Olympics following the World Championships (Narasaki and Kai Harada and Noguchi and Miho Nonaka), the IFSC is saying that Japan has filled their quota, used their host country spot, and competing at other Olympic qualifying events is pointless. 

Mr.Yujiro Goda, managing director of JMSCA, told a Japanese news station, “Why should I just wait because IFSC told me? I want to do what I can for the athletes.” The goal of the law suit is essentially to allow Japanese athletes to qualify at Toulouse and the Asian Championships so that JMSCA can choose other athletes for the Olympics should their current selections get injured or out of shape. 

Remaining questions: Will the IFSC expand the Toulouse quota to include the athletes whose invitations were revoked? Should the IFSC not expand the athlete quota, will the effected National Federations sue? What will become of the JMSCA IFSC lawsuit? How will athletes and their corresponding National Federations react if additional invited athletes at Toulouse get Olympic invitations? More lawsuits because he or she wasn’t supposed to be there? And big picture: Will this mess impact the International Olympic Committee’s opinion of Sport Climbing to the point of Sport Climbing being taken out of 2024?

Athletes Expected to go to Toulouse:


    1. Lucka Rakovec (SLO)
    2. YueTong Zhang (CHN)
    3. Fanny Gibert (FRA)
    4. Jain Kim (KOR)
    5. Julia Chanourdie (FRA)
    6. Ai Mori (JPN)
    7. Mia Krampl (SLO)
    8. Futaba Ito (JPN)
    9. Kyra Condie (USA)
    10. Anouck Jaubert (FRA) (added with rule change)
    11. YILing Song (CHN)
    12. Sol Sa (KOR)
    13. Ashima Shiraishi (USA)
    14. Aries Susanti Rahayu (INA)
    15. Levgeniia Kazbekova (UKR)
    16. Laura Rogora (ITA)
    17. Alannah Yip (CAN)
    18. Elnaz Rekabi (IRI)
    19. Aleksandra Kalucka (POL)
    20. Margo Hayes (USA) (added with rule change)
    21. Sandra Lettner (AUT)
    22. Luliia Kaplina (RUS)


    1. Adam Ondra (CZE)
    2. Kokoro Fujii (JPN)
    3. YuFei Pan (CHN)
    4. Jan Hojer (GER)
    5. William Bosi (GBR)
    6. Sascha Lehmann (SUI)
    7. Meichi Narasaki (JPN)
    8. Manuel Cornu (FRA)
    9. Rei Sugimoto (JPN) (added with rule change)
    10. Nikolai Yarilovets (RUS)
    11. Jongwon Chon (KOR)
    12. Alberto Ginés López (ESP)
    13. Keita Dohi (JPN) (added with rule change)
    14. Bassa Mawem (FRA)
    15. Yannick Flohé (GER)
    16. Alfian Muhammad (INA)
    17. Stefano Ghisolfi (ITA)
    18. Anze Peharc (SLO)
    19. Nathaniel Coleman (USA)
    20. Sean Bailey (USA)
    21. Jernej Kruder (SLO)
    22. Aleksei Rubtsov (RUS)


Feature Image by Eddie Fowke/IFSC


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  • Show Comments

  • Andrew Somera

    Why would Japan sue if they had 2 athletes added and nobody taken off the list?

    • Joey


  • Diana

    Why are the Japanese bringing anyone? They have their two Olympic slots. Is that why they are suing?

  • Michael Jung

    What is wrong with these comments. It doesn’t matter how the Japanese are impacted. This relatively last-minute rule change has left a few exceptional athletes holding their genitalia in their hands.

    I say, if they want to change the rule, fine. But it’s messed up to revoke invitations at this point in time.

  • Rad

    Japan wants to get as many atheletes as possible “qualified” and then have their JMSCA org designate two of them to participate in the Olympics based on which two they think have the best chance of winning medals. They want the designation process to happen later, perhaps at the Championship in May 2020. This might increase their odds of medals, or even multiple medals, and makes sense given the number of top performing athletes they have on their team.

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