Euromeetings still hopes to stage events later this year ©Getty Images

The Euromeetings group, representing European one-day meetings, has added its voice to those calling on World Athletics to reverse this year’s freeze of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualifying window.

The group, founded in 1979, has written to World Athletics President Sebastian Coe requesting that he "re-consider" the decision to suspend Olympic qualifying until December 1 following the postponement of the Games until next year.

A letter seen by insidethegames reports that "several Euromeetings members" are still working on hosting meetings in 2020 for athletes "who want and need to compete".

It adds: "In explaining to our sponsors and supporting institutions the need to stage athletics meetings in 2020, we unfortunately have lost one key argument: the possibility of Olympic qualification.

"Therefore we are kindly asking you to re-consider the decision that the period for achieving Olympic standards will re-open only after December 1, 2020.

"Should the overall situation allow for athletics events to take place in autumn 2020, we would like to propose that it be possible for athletes to achieve Olympic qualifying standards.

"We would suggest that this be possible only at designated events which meet the necessary organisational level and where solid anti-doping operations will be guaranteed.

"The events group could possibly include European Championships, then include one-day meets (Diamond League, WA Continental Tour Gold, Silver and Bronze and possible Area permits), and also national Championships."

The European Championships are scheduled for August 25 to 30 in Paris.

World Athletics President Sebastian Coe has been asked to allow Olympic qualification - frozen until December 1 - to take place at selected meetings if they are able to happen later this year ©Getty Images
World Athletics President Sebastian Coe has been asked to allow Olympic qualification - frozen until December 1 - to take place at selected meetings if they are able to happen later this year ©Getty Images

"We hear many supportive voices for this proposal mainly from our meeting members, but also from athletes, athletes representatives and national Federations", continues the letter.

"Media and TV broadcasters would also be happy to see events in 2020 include the possibility of Olympic qualification.

"We fully understand the globality and fairness of the current status but would welcome a little light at the end of the tunnel in 2020.

"We feel it would be good to keep athletes motivated to train for something and us organisers to prepare our events…

"In addition we could also consider applying a similar model for example for the World Indoor Championships 2021 qualification procedure."

The Euromeetings group, which was founded by the late organiser of the Zürich Weltklasse, Andreas Brugger, represents all the major meetings on the continent including regular Diamond League final host Brussels, Lausanne, Oslo, London, Ostrava and Stockholm.  

World Athletics announced the freeze to Olympic qualifying on April 7 following consultations with its Council, Athletes’ Commission and the Presidents of its six Area Associations.

Coe said he was "grateful for the detailed work and feedback from our Athletes' Commission and Council who believe suspending Olympic qualification during this period gives more certainty for athlete planning and preparation and is the best way to address fairness in what is expected to be the uneven delivery of competition opportunities across the globe for athletes given the challenges of international travel and government border restrictions."

However, given some events taking place before December have not yet been cancelled, there has been some criticism over the suspension from those who feel it would be unfair on any athlete who meets the Olympic standard at a time when results do not count towards qualification.

With the exception of the marathon and 50 kilometres race walk, for which the deadline is May 31 next year, June 29 in 2021 will be the final date where results can count towards Olympic qualification.

The Euromeetings group includes organisers in Lausanne ©Getty Images
The Euromeetings group includes organisers in Lausanne ©Getty Images

Since the World Athletics announcement, The Athletics Association, set up as an independent representative body last year, has invited the sport’s governing body to discuss the decision.

In a statement, The Athletics Association said: "Whilst the decision to suspend the Olympic qualifying period and the world rankings offers clarity for athletes, it is clear that a deeper conversation is needed across the myriad of issues within the qualification process.

"We therefore invite World Athletics to discuss the overall approach to qualification for the Olympics with the Athletics Association before final decisions are made."

It undertook a survey of 685 professional track and field athletes as well as other Olympic hopefuls from 82 countries.

Of those surveyed, 82 per cent of athletes have continued to train and 86 per cent would like to compete in the latter months of the track season if it is safe to do so.

A smaller majority of 60 per cent of athletes would like their results from competitions that take place before the December 1 deadline to count as an Olympic qualifier.

In contrast, 56 per cent said it would be unfair if they were unable to compete due to lockdown measures while other athletes from other nations could.

On Olympic qualification, 81 per cent of athletes thought that the world rankings system has to be reconsidered while 78 per cent of athletes are concerned about the validity of results this season during a period where athletes are being tested less due to restrictions on anti-doping tests.