World Athletics on Tuesday suspended the qualification period for the Tokyo Olympics until December 2020 in wake of the fast-spreading COVID-19 pandemic following consultation with its Athletes' Commission, Area Presidents, and Council.
"Qualification for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games is suspended effective from 6 April 2020 until 30 November 2020 included," World Athletics said in a statement.
"During this period, results achieved at any competition will not be considered for Tokyo 2020 entry standards or world rankings, the publication of which will also be suspended."
Results will continue to be recorded for statistical purposes, including for world records, subject to the applicable conditions but they will not be used to establish an athlete’s qualification status.
"Subject to the global situation returning to normal, the qualification period will resume on 1 December 2020 and continue to the new qualification deadline in 2021 set by the International Olympic Committee (see qualification period table at the end).
"The total qualification period, which started in 2019, will be four months longer than it was originally," the statement read further.
The pandemic has claimed more than 70,000 lives.
Commenting on the decision, World Athletics President Sebastian Coe said: "I am 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."
Athletes who have already met the entry standard since the start of the qualification period in 2019 remain qualified and will be eligible for selection by their respective Member Federations and National Olympic Committees, together with the other athletes who will qualify within the extended qualification period.
The end of the Olympic qualification periods are May 31, 2021 (for 50km race walk and marathon) and June 29, 2021 for all other events.
Qualification starting dates for entry standards and world rankings remain unchanged with many athletes already qualified by meeting the entry standards during 2019.
"With the qualification period from December 1, 2020 to May 31, 2021 (or 29 June 2021 depending on the event) the eligible qualification period (taking into account the eight-month suspension period) is longer than the original period by an additional four months," the statement added.