New Zealand will retain all of its quota spots for the re-scheduled Olympics, after the postponement of the 2020 Games last week.

The International Olympic Committee confirmed on Friday night (NZT) that all places that had already been earned, either by a specific athlete (like shot putter Tom Walsh) or by nation (our rowing crews or hockey teams) would be carried over to the 2021 event.

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"It's really important and significant news for us," New Zealand Olympic Committee CEO Kereyn Smith told the Herald. "Athletes spend a lot of time, commitment and money to achieve that qualification status. It's so tough to qualify — on a worldwide scale — so it's great they have retained those positions."

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From a New Zealand point of view, nine sports have concluded their qualification process.

Another eight sports have seen their major qualification events cancelled or postponed due to the coronavirus, but Smith said that IOC had indicated that any future qualifying arrangements would "mirror the principles of the original intent and structure".

Twelve Kiwi athletes have been named, with Natalie Rooney and Chloe Tipple (Shooting) and Tom Burns (Taekwondo) confirmed on Saturday, to join the Sailing and Canoe Slalom teams already announced.

Luuka Jones, who has been selected for the New Zealand team for the Tokyo Olympics, will keep her spot for the revised Games. Photo / Photosport
Luuka Jones, who has been selected for the New Zealand team for the Tokyo Olympics, will keep her spot for the revised Games. Photo / Photosport

Smith said those athletes, and all the others that have already qualified a spot by name, would need to demonstrate they had retained their form, given the extended timeframe ahead of the Games.

A hold would be put on further selection and nomination for the revised Games, until the exact timing is known.

On Friday night the IOC committed to confirming the dates in the next three weeks.

Smith said the situation around some age-restricted sports, principally men's football, was also discussed with a resolution to be achieved in the coming weeks.

The Olympic Solidarity scholarships, which are worth around US$20,000 across an 18 month span ahead of the Games, will be extended by a further year.

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New Zealand currently has seven recipients of those scholarships.

Smith concedes there will be major challenges ahead, particularly for the Tokyo organising committee, offering the example of "tens of thousands of contracts, just for accommodation", while the 31 venues will also need to be re-secured.

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The NZOC also has to completely reshape their milestone dates and planning, but have received strong support from their commercial partners and sponsors, while athletes have mostly been positive.

"It's tough for those athletes that were planning for an Olympics swansong," said Smith. "Some were quite stunned, depending where they sat in the qualification process.
[But] the majority, not unanimous, but the majority supported a postponement until 2021 when we surveyed them last week. [However,] some weren't sure, they had just put themselves in the best position of their lives and couldn't contemplate another year."

The 12 athletes currently named to the New Zealand team are:

Blair Tuke, Sailing
Peter Burling, Sailing
Molly Meech, Sailing
Alex Maloney, Sailing
Sam Meech, Sailing
Micah Wilkinson, Sailing
Erica Dawson, Sailing
Luuka Jones, Canoe Slalom
Callum Gilbert, Canoe Slalom
Natalie Rooney, Shooting
Chloe Tipple, Shooting
Tom Burns, Taekwondo