How Does the Olympic Archery Quota System Work?

(I’m going to keep this article updated over the next 2 months as the quotas finalise)

Lots of people have been requesting some explanation about how the quota system works for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. The official policy, if you want to read it is here, but it’s a little bit tricky to digest, so I thought I’d break it down here, and explain why there’s a lot of excitement and attention on the last few major events before the Olympics.

Fundamentals

The quota system is there to address a basic issue, and to balance a few competing aims. There are only 128 places for Olympic archery – 64 Men and 64 Women, and as an inclusive event, the Olympics wants to represent as many of the world’s nations as possible. 64 places is just not enough, and so a transparent system is necessary to allocate the limited places amongst the archery nations.

The system defined a number of events at which Olympic quota places can be won. This series of events started back in June 2023 with the European Games and will finish in Antalya, Turkey in June 2024.

At each of the events, a number of quota spaces are available to the winning archers or teams, and the exact number and type of quota places is different for each type of event.

It’s important to note that when an archer wins these quota places, they don’t win themselves a spot at the Olympics, they earn a spot for their country (or officially their National Olympic Committee, NOC). Those countries will then have their own internal selection processes for deciding which archers they will actually send to represent them at the Olympics. That might seem a bit unfair at first, that an archer can win a spot for their country but then not get to go to the Games, but this is quite common across all sports and gives each country the chance to select the best archers right now, rather than being forced to send someone who might have done well at an event a year ago but is currently not on good form, or injured.

Regardless of how well a country does at the qualification events, they can only send a maximum of 3 men and/or 3 women to the Olympics. Once a country reaches 3 places they can rest easy and start preparing for the Games, whilst other countries chase the remaining places.

On top of all of this, there is also a required minimum standard for any archer selected. Archers must have achieved the Minimum Qualifying Score (MQS) between 31st July 2023 and 28th June 2024. The MQS levels (on a WA 70m round) are 640 for men and 610 for women.

Types of event

There 64 places per gender can be won in the following ways.

Quota Type Detail Places
Host nation As the host nation, France is granted a full compliment of 3 places 3 x 1 = 3
World Archery Championships The top 3 placed teams at the WAC get 3 places each 3 x 3 = 9
The top 3 placed individuals earn a quota place for their NOC 3 x 1 = 3
Continental Games (CG) – these are multi-sports games, a bit like the Olympics, but limited to a single continent. The winners of the mixed-team event at each of the CGs (European Games, Pan-American Games, Asian Games, Oceania Games) win one spot each. Due to archery not being offered at the 2024 African Games, the mixed team quota was rolled into the African CQT. 5 x 1 = 5
The top two place individual archers at the European, Asian and American CGs win a quota place each 3 x 2 = 6
Continental Championships (CC). These are archery-specific continental events. Top three teams at the European, Asian and American archery championships win 3 places each. 3 x 3 = 9
Continental Qualifying Tournaments (CQT). These are standalone events outside of the normal competition calendar with the specific purpose of allocating quota places. Top placed individuals win quota places, but the number of places is different in each CQT. Europe 3, Asia, Africa and Americas 2, and Oceania 1 3 x 1 = 3
2 x 1 = 2
2 x 1 = 2
2 x 1 = 2
1 x 1 = 1
Final Qualification Tournament (FQT). The FQT tournaments, both individual (the FIQT) and team (FTQT) will be held in Antalya just before the The Hyundai World Archery Cup. The FQT is the last-chance saloon. As well as some designated quota spaces, any other spaces that were not allocated earlier in the process are up for grabs. The top 3 placed teams at the FQT get 3 places each. 3 x 3 = 9
The top 2 placed individuals earn a quota place for their NOC 2 x 1 = 2
World Team Ranking. After the FQT, the top two ranked teams in the official world ranking who have not already secured a place, are granted a full squad of 3. 2 x 3 = 6
Universality places. As part of the Olympic culture, some places are reserved to support sports development, and allow competitors to attend who might not otherwise get the opportunity. Two places are available per gender 2 x 1 = 2
Total 64

As can be seen in the table, there is a distinction between Team and Individual spots. In events that award team quota spaces, countries instantly win 3 quota places, whereas individual spots have to be earned one at a time. Some events award places based on mixed-team results, but those are awarded as individual places.

Chain Reactions

That at least is how the 64 places were allocated at the start of the process. These places might move around though. For example when the French Women’s Team came 2nd at the World Archery Championships, they had no need for those quota places as they already had some from being host nation. So, those three spaces are allocated to the FQT, so now the top 4 placed women’s teams in Antalya will win quota places.

This also happens on an individual level. An archer can win an individual place for their NOC, but that can be superseded if their country wins a team quota place at a higher priority event, at which point their individually achieved quota space is reallocated to the next ranked person at that event. This could happen a long time after the event, and a country that previously missed out might find itself upgraded in a chain reaction after another country upgrades their places from and individual to a team. It’s important to note that this process follows the event’s priority, not it’s date, though. The priority order for the qualifying events is, from highest to lowest –

  • World Championships
  • Continental Games
  • Continental Qualifying Tournaments
  • Final Qualification Tournaments
  • World Ranking List

In general if a place can’t be awarded, it shifts down to the next ranked team (down to the 4th place team) or next ranked individual (down to a maximum of 8th place).

Many of these effects can be seen happening at the 2023 World Archery Championships, as shown below.

Restrictions

There are a few extra constraints and restrictions to be aware of

  • A country can only have one individual place per gender. The only way to get more than one place per country is to earn team quota places. This is why events offering team quota places are in such high demand and so competitively fought. This restriction means it’s not possible for a NOC to send 2 archers in a given gender – only 1 or 3 is possible.

    This restriction has always struck me as a little bit strange. If we imagine a country that’s on great form and wins gold, silver and bronze at the WAC, or maybe wins gold at the WAC, the CC, and CG, it seems a little unfair that that’s not recognised in the quota and after that first place, none of those other achievements matter.
  • If a country has already attained a quota place for a gender, then no athlete of that gender from that country may compete in the CQT. This makes sense given the previous point, as even if those archers placed in a quota spot they wouldn’t be able to claim the place. The overall effect of this is that the only countries competing at the CQTs are those who could actually take a quota place.
  • The same restriction applies to the FTQT and FIQT – it’s only for individuals or teams that haven’t already achieved quota places in that category.

All to play for

At the point of writing this post, there are only 3 qualifying events out of 14 left, but those account for nearly half of all quota places, so those final events (the European CQT, the European CC, and the FQT) will be hotly contested and all the NOCs with less than a full quota will be sending the A-teams to try and secure the remaining spots. Indeed, at the European CC, we see over 25 full teams competing for the one team quota place.

Most valuable in these events are the team places, as winning quota places there means a country will be able to send a full squad to the Games rather than just a lone individual. In total, there are 5 women’s team places (15 in total) and 4 men’s team places (12) up for grabs in these last qualifiers, plus 2 team places (6 in total per gender) to be awarded based on the mens and womens team World Ranking List as of the 24th June.

Summary of Current Quota Places

The image below shows the current state, I’ll endeavour to keep it up to date as the last places resolve. This image shows which countries won places at each of the qualifying events. The bar-charts on the side show the current number of places each country has.

Interpreting this table

The Final Qualifying Tournaments

The Final Team Qualifying Tournament (FTQT) and the Final Individual Qualifying Tournament (FIQT) take place in Antalya from the 14th-17th June. These events represent the last chance to competitively win quota places.

There will be 4 womens team and 3 mens team quotas up for grabs, and 4 individual womens’ spots and 3 mens individual spots (the different number reflects how reallocations have happened during the qualifying period).

The wording in the official policy is a bit ambiguous about what happens to previously won individual quota places if a team wins a quota at the FTQT, My current reading of the rules is that those previous places are not reallocated backwards to positions at the original event, but are instead pushed forwards into the FIQT.

It’s not clear from the policy whether the normal policy applies of reallocating places only as far as 8th place in the FIQT. Clause F1.1 in the rules applies to events happening before the FQT, and F1.2 applies to events after the FQT, but it is not clear which rule applies at the FQT itself. Assuming there is an FQT cap at 4th/8th place, then F1.2 implies that any places unallocated would be filled from the respective Team and Individual world ranking list.

World Team Ranking Places

The last team spots are allocated to the two countries who are highest in the official world team rankings who have not secured a team quota already.

These tables show live data from World Archery showing current World Team rankings, and the top two countries who don’t yet have a team quota.

Men’s Teams

Women’s Teams

Events at the Olympic Games

At the Games themselves, the competition format will be

  • All 64 archers will shoot a 70m round to determine their ranking for the head to head matches, which will decide the individual medals.
  • For countries that have at least one man and woman competing, the top ranked man and women from those countries will form a mixed team. The top 16 ranked mixed teams will compete in head to head matches to eventually award mixed team medals.
  • There will be 12 mens and 12 womens teams, and all will compete in head to head matches. The top 4 ranked teams (ranked by the sum of the individuals qualification rounds) will get a bye to the quarter finals, whilst the remaining teams will fight for the other 4 places.

In total there will be 5 medal ceremonies – men and women individuals, men and womens teams, and mixed team.


Hopefully this explanation and the graphics are useful to decipher this quite complex system. I have an interactive version of this that I hope to share before the FQT, which shows how different scenarios would work, and how the chain reactions would unfold. Watch this space.

Lastly, a disclaimer. This is just my interpretation of the current state of the process. The definitive status can be found on the WA Tracker here.


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