Changes to Universality Rules in World Aquatics Updates for Paris 2024; Eliminates World Championship Requirement

World Aquatics has made changes to its universality requirements for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. Athletes will no longer be required to have competed at the 2023 or 2024 World Aquatics Championships in order to be eligible for universality for the Olympics. This decision was communicated to federations in a memo earlier this week, stating that the fastest athletes from each national federation will now have the opportunity to represent their country in the Olympic Games, subject to exceptional circumstances assessed by the World Aquatics Executive.

The decision to remove this requirement comes after the conclusion of the 2023 and 2024 World Aquatics Championships. This change is part of a broader overhaul of the universality system in the Olympics. Another change includes sending athletes with the highest FINA Points Table score to mitigate concerns of domestic corruption in universality selection. Additionally, new eligibility criteria have been implemented, limiting universality athletes to competing in up to two Olympic Games in their career and being no older than 30 as of December 31st, 2024.

This shift in guidelines aims to focus on the domestic development of young swimmers to achieve Olympic qualifying times. The goal is to deter nations with less-developed swimming programs from repeatedly sending the same athletes to the Games, instead of focusing on nurturing a new generation of swimmers. Universality athletes will still have a higher priority in Olympic selection compared to swimmers with “B” standards under the 852 athlete quota for the Games, a reduction of 26 spots from the Tokyo Olympics. Universality applications for the Paris 2024 Games are due by June 24th, 2024.

By Samantha Robertson

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