Gymnastics body plans to change Olympic qualifying rules

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — The International Gymnastics Federation wants to change Olympic qualification rules to help more countries compete and promote second-tier championships.

The FIG ruling council will vote this week on cutting artistic gymnastics team sizes from five to four at the 2020 Tokyo Games. Teams of six competed at the 2008 Games.

The proposal "would open up 12 spaces for men and 12 for women" within an IOC-imposed athlete quota of 98 for each gender in artistic gymnastics, the governing body said Wednesday.

Those places could be won by event specialists from stronger nations — which could earn two more entries — and smaller countries unlikely to qualify for the team event.

A total of 58 countries competed at the 2012 London Games, and the International Olympic Committee encourages more under its policy of "universality."

FIG said its proposed qualification would include continental events and its World Cup series "to bring more prestige to the smaller championships."

"Under the new system, gymnasts would qualify for the games based on results from several competitions," FIG said.

Currently, teams qualify through the world championships in the year before the Olympics, and at the subsequent test event in the host venue.

Individual gymnasts can qualify through winning worlds medals and rankings at the test event. The FIG can also offer a few invitations.

The FIG council opens its meeting Thursday in Melbourne, Australia.

The panel will also choose Rotterdam, Netherlands, or Stuttgart, Germany, to host the 2019 worlds.

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