Olympic Games: the UCI announces revolutionary gender parity for Paris 2024

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The UCI has announced that for the first time in the history of the Olympic Games, gender parity will exist in all Paris 2024 cycling events.

The governing body confirmed the number and distribution of qualifying places for the upcoming Olympics on Monday, with a total of 90 men and 90 women eligible to compete in the road races.

These will include 88 places for men and women. There will also be, as part of the usual host country benefit, two additional men’s places and two women’s places for the host country, France.

A smaller number of 35 runners of each gender will compete in the time trials.

The gender split was markedly different at Tokyo 2020. 130 men compared to just 67 women took part in the road races, almost 50% fewer women than men.

The gender split for the time trial was also skewed, 41 to 26.

The road events were the source of the inequality, with parity existing between the six different track disciplines of keirin, omnium, individual sprint, team pursuit, team sprint and Madison, as well as the mountain bike and BMX racing.

Indeed, one more woman raced in the omnium than in the men, with 20 men lining up against 21 women.

Parity in these latter events will be preserved for 2024. 95 of each gender will compete in track events, 34 of each in cross country mountain biking and 24 of each in BMX.

However, there is still a marked bias in Paralympic events; there are a total of 140 qualifying places for men and only 80 for women.

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How competitors will qualify:

In addition to details on gender parity, Monday’s announcement by the UCI gave more details on exactly how the places will be offered.

Road events:

Out of a total of 180 qualification places, a total of 160 (80 per gender) will be allocated on the basis of the UCI road world ranking by nation. The final UCI ranking will be published in October 2023 and will be drawn from the results recorded in the UCI elite and U23 events on the UCI International Calendar during the 52 weeks preceding this point.

There will be eight additional places each for men and women from nations that have not qualified through this system; instead, those spots will be determined by their results at the 2023 road world and continental championships. The UCI notes that this route excludes Europe and Oceania.

Four other places will go to France as host country of the Games.

Each National Olympic Committee (NOC) is entitled to a maximum of eight places, four for men and four for women.

As for time trials, there is an allocation of 35 points per gender. Only National Olympic Committees that have qualified for places in the Road Race can be allocated places, and only two per NOC per gender.

Track races:

There are 95 places for men and 95 for women among the six disciplines (keirin, omnium, individual sprint, team pursuit, team sprint and Madison). Each NOC can have a maximum of 14 places, seven for men and seven for women.

The places will be allocated according to the UCI Olympic track ranking 2022-2024, which will be established for each event according to the points acquired at:

  • The last two editions of the respective continental championships
  • The two best results of the UCI Track Nations Cup for each of the 2023 and 2024 seasons
  • The 2023 UCI Track World Championships (elite).

MTB and BMX:

The 72 cross-country mountain bike spots will include 34 spots for men and women, two additional spots per gender for the host country and two additional spots per gender for what the UCI calls universality spots. These are defined as “quotas that promote the development of sport and offer equal opportunities to emerging countries”.

BMX Racing will also allocate two places per gender to the host country, and two places per gender as universality places. There are 22 additional places for men and 22 for women, totaling a total quota of 48.

The UCI specifies that the BMX freestyle qualification documents will soon be published on the UCI website. A link to qualifying documents for mountain bike racing returned an error, with those qualifying documents likely to follow as well.

Para-cycling events:

The total of 220 places (140 for men, 80 for women) will be allocated on the following basis. 47 places for men and 28 for women will be allocated initially according to the 2022 UCI para-cycling nations ranking, then 88 places for men and 47 for women according to the 2024 UCI Paralympic ranking combining road and UCI track competitions between January 1, 2023 and June 30, 2024.

This ranking will include the 2023 road para-cycling worlds, the 2023 and 2024 track para-cycling worlds and the 2023 and 2024 UCI road para-cycling world cup.

In addition, five eligible male athletes and five eligible female athletes will receive an invitation from the Bipartisan Commission.

Dates of publication of the final UCI rankings of the various Olympic and Paralympic disciplines:

Road cycling**: October 2023
Track***: April 15, 2024
MTB: May 28, 2024
BMX Race: June 4, 2024
Road and track para-cycling: July 1, 2024

**The exact date will be communicated on the UCI website following the publication of the UCI 2023 international road calendar.
***At the end of each event, the UCI will publish the results on the UCI website and update the corresponding UCI Olympic Track Ranking.

The UCI said the BMX freestyle quota confirmation date will be announced soon.

Naomi C. Amerson