by Nick Butler
March 27, 2014 (ISN) – A greater proportion of quota places for women is among the changes successfully proposed by the World Rowing Federation (FISA) to its qualification system ahead of Rio 2016.
The changes, which have now been approved by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), have been introduced to reflect FISA’s attention to the major principles of excellence, universality and gender equity.
Although the size and composition of the 14 Olympic classes remains unchanged, the number of boats for women has been increased in the women’s single sculls, pair, double sculls and lightweight double sculls.
To account for this, the number of boats for men has been reduced in the men’s single sculls, quadruple sculls and eight.
Among other changes all nations in the continent of Oceania, except for rowing powerhouses Australia and New Zealand, have been added to the Asian Continental Olympic Qualification Regatta.
In order to increase the opportunities for these nations as well as for those in Asia, the number of boats qualifying in the men’s single sculls will increase by one and the number of boats qualifying in the women’s single sculls will increase by two.
Australia and New Zealand, along with the United States and Canada, will participate in a European Continental Olympic Qualification Regatta, which will be held in conjunction with a final Olympic Qualification Regatta open to all nations.
Denis Oswald, the outgoing FISA President who will be replaced by Jean-Christophe Rolland later this year, believes the changes in the Olympic qualification system move rowing closer to the goal of equality for men and women, as well as the aim of boosting participation levels for more National Olympic Committees around the world.
“It is very important for our sport to grasp the Olympic ideals of greater universality and equal opportunity,” he said.
“With our new qualification system, we are moving in the right direction.”
Qualification is due to begin next year at the World Rowing Championships in Aiguebelette, and this will be followed by continental regattas before the final qualification regatta in Lucerne several months before the Games in May 2016.
For the Paralympics, the final qualification regatta will be held in the same year as the Games in April 2016.