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Olympic gymnastics qualification shake-up after events canceled

Gymnastics - Artistic - Olympics: Day 1

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 06: A general view on Day 1 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Rio Olympic Arena on August 6, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland — The United States, Russia and China were each given an extra entry to the Olympic women’s gymnastics competition in Tokyo on Wednesday after the coronavirus pandemic forced a shake-up in qualifying.

The International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) said it was canceling its all-around World Cup series of events because of the pandemic.

A World Cup in Tokyo on May 4, which serves as a test event at the Tokyo Olympic venue, is still on. Simone Biles has been expected to compete there in what could be her first meet since the October 2019 Worlds.

The canceled events were supposed to offer countries one extra spot for the postponed Tokyo Games, helping the top nations to compensate after Olympic teams were reduced in size from five athletes to four.

FIG is going back to 2019 World Championships results to determine those places. That means the United States, Russia and China get one extra women’s spot each, and that Russia, China and Japan each receive an extra men’s spot. All of those countries had already qualified a four-person team for the men’s and women’s competitions.

Of the four planned all-around World Cup events, only one has taken place, in Milwaukee last year. Events in Germany and Britain were canceled, leaving the series below the minimum number of three events required to be a valid Olympic qualifier.

“Despite the organizers’ best efforts, the reinforcement of entry bans in Europe in recent weeks has drastically reduced the ability of foreign athletes to take part in events in the continent,” FIG said in a statement.

Despite that setback, FIG said it will proceed with plans to offer Olympic spots through other World Cup events focusing on the individual apparatus events and through continental championships.

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