IWF Sport Programme Commission Suggests Weightlifting Changes for 2020 Olympics

By now, chances are you’ve heard about potential changes for the sport of weightlifting, and more specifically weightlifting at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. In recent years, international weightlifting has been hit with significant doping issues. These issues have since sparked the International Olympic Committee to make changes in the sport of weightlifting.

In June, the International Olympic Committee announced that their would be a reduction in weightlifting athletes for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics compared to previous years, and there would be a male weight class dropped. Since then, there’s been an ongoing discussion about what else will change.

Yesterday, the IWF shared a press release that illustrates a few more details to the prospective changes we may see. The IWF Sport Programme Commission (SPC) met in Lausanne, Switzerland on November 11-13th. A few of the topics discussed were changes to the Olympic Qualification System, competition format, event field size, and weight categories. 

Olympics Qualification System

One of the suggestions made by the IWF SPC was to re-work the Olympic Qualification process. They suggest shortening the qualification period to 18-months prior to the Olympics. During this time there would be two World Championships held, and athletes would have to regularly compete in Olympic Qualification competitions.

The idea and logic behind this newly shortened Qualification System is to provide more occasions for athletes to partake in anti-doping measurements. With a shorter time frame and increased testing, the idea is that there would be fewer doping issues.

Competition Format

The SPC suggest that during the 18-month period, athletes will compete in seven bodyweight categories, which will transition into the newly formulated 2020 Tokyo Olympics weight classes. 

Event Field Size

Only 14 athletes will be eligible to compete in each weight class for the 2020 Olympics, and every National Olympic Committee will be allowed a maximum of four athletes per gender with one per medal event. While not clearly defined in the press release, we’re guessing this entails one athlete per weight category per each National team.

This news should come to no surprise, as we’ve known for a few months only 196 weightlifting athletes will be eligible to compete in the 2020 Olympics, which is a sharp reduction from 2016 Rio’s 260 athletes.

Bodyweight Categories

One of the biggest changes on every athlete and coach’s mind is the new bodyweight categories. From the release, the SPC state they’ve taken more steps forward in deciding which classes will stay and change.

In the IWF press release they write, The SPC is continuing to review the existing bodyweight categories to make recommendations to the IWF Technical Committee and Executive Board regarding the new bodyweight categories. The SPC is also exploring innovative and exciting new event formats which will be implemented to keep the sport as appealing and relevant to a global audience as possible.”

All of the SPC’s suggested changes will be reviewed by the IWF Executive Board on November 25-26th. During their next meeting, hopefully we’ll receive more details on the newly formulated changes in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and sport of weightlifting.

Feature image @iwfnet Instagram page. 

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Jake holds a Master's in Sports Science and a Bachelor's in Exercise Science. Currently, Jake serves as one of the full time writers and editors at BarBend. He's a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and has spoken at state conferences on the topics of writing in the fitness industry and building a brand. As of right now, Jake has published over 1,100 articles related to strength athletes and sports. Articles about powerlifting concepts, advanced strength & conditioning methods, and topics that sit atop a strong science foundation are Jake's bread-and-butter. On top of his personal writing, Jake edits and plans content for 15 writers and strength coaches who come from every strength sport.Prior to BarBend, Jake worked for two years as a strength and conditioning coach for hockey and lacrosse players, and was a writer at the Vitamin Shoppe's corporate office. Jake regularly competes in powerlifting in the 181 lb weight class, and considers himself a weightlifting shoe sneaker head. On the side of writing full time, Jake works as a part-time strength coach and works with clients through his personal business Concrete Athletics in Hoboken and New York City.