Olympic Shotgun Champion James Willett hopeful for Tokyo Olympic Gold

Relieved that he has been confirmed in the Australian team and that the Games are still going ahead. And ready to aim for gold after placing fifth in Rio in 2016. The Australian Olympic Committee officially announced the 15-strong Australian shooting delegation on Friday.

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The Mulwala local placed first in the qualifiers just before the coronavirus restrictions came into force, so he was not surprised to be selected in the team. But he said being chosen so far out from the games meant the pressure was on. We never would have thought we’d be preparing for an Olympic a year and a half out, so it’ll be a challenge.

It has never happened before in a shooting team, generally, only three to four months out the team would be declared. But the 24-year-old said there were positives to the early selection. We get to emphasis on the games now with a long period of training time and competition time confidently, if everything goes back to normal.

Timing has so far been on Willett’s side. He has been able to continue training at the state-of-the-art shooting range on the family farm at Mulwala on the New South Wales side of the Murray River. And on the back of the qualifiers before the coronavirus lockdown.

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The shotgun specialist’s training ground was completed this year with specialist equipment and people from Europe. Construction on the full-sized trap shooting range — with 15 clay target machines in a 20-meter underground bunker — started in November. But Willett said he was not training too hard this far out from the Olympic.

I’m taking it a little bit easy at the moment, just treating it as a little bit of a break. The family, with the help of some sponsorship, has spent about $250,000 on the facility. Willett was unsure if it could prove to be his secret weapon. We’ll find out in about a year and a half but I’ll be putting my best foot forward.

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Olympic Shotgun: National Rifle Association of India comes up with a blueprint for Tokyo Olympic

National Rifle Association of India President Raninder Singh developed a plan for the Tokyo Olympics and stressed that the health and safety of shooters will be a top priority. In an exclusive conversation with Mail Today on Tuesday, Raninder said he took stock after consulting all stakeholders in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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What is most important to me is that all of my shooters are protected in every way possible. Their health and well-being are the main factors to take into account. I have discussed this with the Indian Olympic Association, the Department of Sports, and the Sports Authority of India. The President of NRAI has ruled out any unwanted overseas travel and has stated that the best facilities, coaching, and physical support will be provided to shooters who will prepare for the postponed Tokyo Olympic.

Right now, we’re looking at three possible scenarios that may unfold before us. If things get better by July, we will house the shooters in a residential complex near the Karni Singh chains. It will almost be like a quarantine, without interaction with strangers and safely. Food, food, everything will be taken care of and the coaches will also be there only. We have a link with Manav Rachna University, so kiosks will also be available.

He said the other scenario is that a vaccine hits the market, which means that all shooters and support staff will take the hit. Finally, if the situation remains unpredictable until next year, my shooters will be fully prepared to board the flight and fly directly to Tokyo and shoot the Olympic2020. In the past, Indian shooters have traveled abroad, either to Italy or to other European countries. I will not allow anyone to fly and it is a firm order. I also spoke to the department.

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No technical adjustments need to be made and if people need to adjust their grip (pistol shooters), this can be done in India. We have the people for that. There is no situation that I see where snipers have to shoot to change their rod and other stuff. It is a way they will all be with the team and there will hopefully be no problem.

“This means that until the end of the year there will be no international competition. What happens if the situation improves dramatically around the world will be assessed later, “he said.

As vice president of the world body (ISSF), Raninder said that no international shooting competition would take place before each participating nation can compete. The expenses of the President of NRAI will not be a factor.

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Pistol and rifle shooters will import equipment that can help them train on indoor courts inside their homes. SUIS ASCOR equipment orders have already been placed for certain shooters. Regarding team selection for the Tokyo Olympics next July, Raninder said they had done their homework. Priority will be given to shooters who have won quota places in India.

However, for each discipline in which India will participate, we will have the support of two additional shooters. It will be a very healthy situation and all these shooters, around forty, will be part of the large camp planned. Likely, another quota may also come to India. This, of course, will be finalized later. Currently, India has 15 quota places in filming.

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Olympic Shotgun: Hocking shooter sets sights on 2021 Tokyo Olympic

A PERTH woman has become the first West Australian to secure a place in the Australian clay shooting team for the 2021 Tokyo Olympic. Hocking resident Laura Coles (32) is the only Western Australian in the 15-person team and will contest the women’s skeet shotgun event.

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Coles is one of seven Australian shooting athletes due to make their debut at the Tokyo Olympic, which has been postponed to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I’m the first West Australian clay target shooter to ever make it on to an Olympic team. After competing in four nomination trial events from January to March, the 15 athletes were nominated by Shooting Australia and officially selected by the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) on April 17.

Coles said it was a “dream come true” that she had been working towards since 2007 when she took up the Olympic discipline of clay shooting. She was first introduced to the sport in Busselton five years earlier, as a 15-year-old, after her father received a shotgun from his father-in-law. Coles said the motivation to pursue a place in the team for 13 years came from her “stubborn” nature and reluctance to let down family and her partner who had supported her Olympic bid.

You get to a point you put so much into it that you can’t walk away. It’s incredibly hard to do it from WA – a lot of the competitions are held over in the eastern states. A lot of coaching and know-how are also in the eastern states. I kind of had to teach myself and that’s probably also the reason it took so long. I’ve had coaches come over to me as well.

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A lot of it has been trial and error and seeing what works for me. I’ve ended up with a little bit of an individual technique. Coles said the qualifying period had been unusual due to the coronavirus situation, which threatened to cancel the final qualifying event in Sydney in March. At that stage, I was behind in qualifying.

If they chose to end it there, I wouldn’t have made the team. Once I did make the team, the Tokyo Olympic was up in the air. Coles said after the games were postponed to 2021, the athletes did not know whether they would have to requalify, until the AOC announced the selection on April 17. She said the coronavirus restrictions meant she was having a break from her normal training, with her range at the International Shooting Complex in Whiteman Park currently closed.

“It was a little bit of a jarring change,” she said.

Her work as an instructor for Hot Shots Shooting events at the WA Gun Club also stopped, making it a sudden transition from working and training hard to have little to occupy her time. However, she was pragmatic about the forced break and having time off before training would pick up when ranges reopened. I think that’s the case for most people around the world unless you are lucky enough to own your range. Without such a luxury herself, Coles has focused on physical training such as weights and aerobics, as well as yoga.

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She has also been practicing her “dry mount” technique to lift the gun from the starting position near her hip to her shoulder. Coles said she hoped to celebrate her 33rd birthday on April 22 with a quiet dinner at home with her fiance. AOC chef de mission Ian Chesterman congratulated the 15 athletes selected “to continue Australia’s rich Olympic legacy in the sport of shooting”. Shooting Australia chief executive Luke van Kempen also paid tribute to the athletes on their Tokyo Olympic selection.

Olympic team athletes now have the certainty of selection and they can now direct their singular focus on training and preparing for the commencement of the Tokyo Olympic in July 2021. We will be working hard with them all to ensure they are in top form at the end of an extended preparation period.

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Olympic Shotgun: How Colonel Rathore’s Olympic Silver Inspired India’s Shooting Stars

Olympic athletes can suddenly be catapulted into the same nationwide appeal and affection held normally for a select band of cricket stars. The army colonel, who had served in Kargil during the 1999 war with Pakistan and had steadily proved his shooting prowess since joining the forces, had seen his career culminate.

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The country had sent a contingent of 73 athletes, with 57 of them competing in discrete sports as only the Indian hockey side played in a team sport. Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore always had sports in his DNA. He played many of them as a kid and was later recognized as the best sportsman during his years at the Indian Military Academy.

The shooting was no surprise to Rathore, he had after all led a regiment in Kashmir. The sport shooting was a different game; it was more to do with ‘precision’ rather than ‘target’ as the silver medallist would later put.

Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore first picked up the gun for sport resolutions in 1998 when the Indian army decided to form a shooting team. It required intense attention and discipline – areas where his army officer training and constant will to succeed helped.

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He was in enormous form coming into the 2004 Olympic as he had made it to the finals of every major championship in the past one and a half years. Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore trained on his own until January 2004 after which he decided it was time for some expert guidance. He flew to Italy where he qualified under former world champion Luca Marini and ex-Olympic champion, Russell Mark, firing close to 80 shots a day.

In the months leading up to the Games, the army man ready a precise calendar of the events he would contribute in, the amount of time he would train and even the number of shots he should ideally fire in training every day. If this level of thoroughness was not enough, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore would also call up his wife Gayatri, who he had only seen for four months in the past two years, to discuss possible strategies and scenarios. 

The work he had put in was immense and it was now time for the reward to materialize. India’s medal haul at Athens 2004 was a single silver medal for the army man in the double trap category but it was historic in many ways. It was the nation’s first individual silver – India had at best managed an individual bronze till then – and also its first Olympic medal in shooting.

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Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore’s quest did not begin well as he shot 135 out of 200 in the initial round but was placed fifth and so went finished. The then 28-year-old, nicknamed ‘Chilly’ by his mother, came into his own in the final yet. He hit his targets more often but UAE’s Shaikh Ahmed Al Maktoum, a member of Dubai’s ruling family who had taken up shooting only at 34, shot an incontrovertible lead and won gold to give his country its first-ever Olympic medal.

The pressure was still immense on Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore as he was competing with three other shooters for the silver and needed to hit both his flying clay targets in his last attempt. The colonel was deadly accurate with both his shots as he scored 179 out of 200 and raised his right arm in celebration but the significance of his feat would set in only much later as he inspired India to win shooting medals in both of the Tokyo Olympic.

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Olympic Shotgun: How North Texas Olympians are preparing for the Tokyo Games

Vincent Hancock remembers the tunnel being pitch black as Team USA readied to march into the Bird’s Nest during the opening ceremonies at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. I’m standing behind the flag bearer and I remember looking up at the flag and it goes from pitch black to nothing but super bright red, white and blue. It was amazing.

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All of a sudden, you’re walking into the stadium and you feel the electricity. People slowly start chanting, ‘U-S-A! U-S-A!’ It gets louder and louder and louder. It’s unreal. That feeling is why I want to go back to the Olympics again and again and again. Those powerful feelings felt during the opening ceremonies were even more memorable than actually winning a gold medal, Hancock. The Fort Worth resident would know, too, after winning consecutive Olympic gold medals as the world’s best skeet shooter in 2008 in Beijing and 2012 in London.

He participated, but didn’t medal, at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro. What’s it like getting a gold medal hung around your neck? It’s a dream come true Hancock, a former sergeant in the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit. “Listening to the National Anthem play is just a surreal feeling and a rush of emotions. It’s the culmination of your life’s work. But the greatest experience is the opening ceremonies, walking in with Team USA.”

Hancock, who turned 31 on Thursday, is hopeful to experience his fourth opening ceremony this summer in Tokyo. He qualified to represent Team USA in men’s skeet for the fourth straight Games earlier this month at the shotgun trials in Tucson, Arizona. So did a couple of other members of USA Shooting who carry on to train and get ready for the Games at Fort Worth Trap & Skeet. Austen Smith, an 18-year-old from Keller, is set to make her first appearance in the Olympic after qualifying in women’s skeet.

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Brian Burrows, a 32-year-old Californian who recently relocated to Denton, is also set to participate in his first Olympic as a trap shooter. But the coronavirus pandemic has put the Games in jeopardy of being postponed or possibly canceled. USA Swimming and USA Track & Field, as well as Norway’s and Brazil’s national Olympic committees, are notable entities who have all called for the Games to be postponed to 2021 in recent days.

That’s a reality all three shooters — and all of the Team USA delegation — are facing in the coming weeks. For now, though, they have to train as though the Games will take place as scheduled. We’ve been given the direction to be careful, be safe, but also prepare, Hancock. I’m praying it’s not a cancellation. If anything, it might be postponed. But I hope nothing happens. I hope it stays the same. I continue to train like it’s going to stay the same just because we never know. God willing, I’ll be ready to go back and get another gold.

The same can be said for Smith and Burrows. Both have taken unlikely journeys to reach the Olympic. Smith started shooting competitively six years ago and has risen quickly in the sport. To qualify for the Tokyo Olympic earlier this month, she beat out respected veterans such as six-time Olympian Kim Rhode (who has won six Olympic medals). It was an extremely close match. We had six women who could’ve made the team.

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You’d think it’d be nerve-wracking, but it just drove me to do better. I wouldn’t have had it any other way. He retired from competitive trapshooting in 2016, believing he’d never reach the Olympic. Countries have to qualify for spots in the respective disciplines and the United States failed to qualify for men’s trap at the 2012 and 2016 Games.

But Burrows returned to competitive shooting in 2018. He started winning events and making podiums, ultimately helping the United States to qualify for the Tokyo Olympic in men’s trap by winning the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru. He then qualified for the team in a tight battle at the trials earlier this month.

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Olympic Shotgun: As Olympic sports shut down, shooters compete for Tokyo Olympic spots

Olympic qualifying and preparation tests in Tokyo have been postponed or canceled worldwide, but Shooting Australia is continuing its final qualifications in Sydney and Adelaide this week, claiming that competition can be organized with athletes who maintain a safe social distance each other and officials.

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 SA confirmed on Wednesday that it had canceled its flagship Shooting Australia Open tournament at Cecil Park in west Sydney this weekend, but would instead host exclusive events for competitors still eligible for selection to the Australian Olympic team in the pistol, rifle and shotgun categories.

SA CEO Luke van Kempen defended the decision to hold the final qualifying stage, saying the organization had conferred with the New South Wales government, the NSW Office of Sport, the Olympic Committee Australian, the Australian Institute of Sport and medical experts and consulted athletes through their heads.

Only 54 athletes had Minimum Qualification Scores (MQS) and could compete on both sites – the rifle discipline will take place in Adelaide and the pistol and shotgun in Sydney – but there should be fewer participants than that because the Tokyo Olympic aspirants need only have fired in three of the four Tokyo qualification events. “Our sport can be practiced while maintaining a safe social distance from other competitors and officials.

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Several guidelines will be implemented to allow this practice, and all athletes and officials will be well educated on these issues before their respective events, said van Kempen. With the conclusion of three events, we predicted a few weeks ago that MQS athletes would elect do not to attend the final nomination due to their classification on the qualification dashboard.

If there is an MQS athlete who does not wish to participate this week, there is, as indicated under Mitigating circumstances in the nomination criteria, the provision allowing the selectors to the absence of athlete concerning the nomination of AOC athletes for the Olympic Team 2020 selection.

We see all of these other sports across the country canceling or postponing their events. We do not understand why our federation puts us or our athletes in danger, the hope of Tokyo, which asked to remain anonymous, when it was contacted Wednesday before the board of directors of the SA announces the qualification. There was no consultation with the athletes. We are simply told that if you signed up and want to go to Tokyo, you introduce yourself. It’s not going so well.

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There is a reason why all these other sports cancel or postpone these events. They are concerned about the risk. I also understand their situation. I just think it could have been better managed. Athletes come from all over the country for this event. Former Olympic gold medalist Russell Mark said SA was in a difficult position, but also questioned whether the event should continue.

Skeet shooter Frank Morris will be unable to participate in Sydney as he had to isolate himself for two weeks after returning home after a business trip to Hawaii. Morris is ranked fourth in the Games nominations after three rounds, but he is too far behind Paul Adams, first, who should secure the spot for the men’s skeet.

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Olympic Shotgun: Saurabh Chaudhary, Aishwary Pratap Dominate Tokyo Olympic Trials

A day after Rahi Sarnobat and Kynan Chenai proved their mettle with some quality performances, the Olympic team selection trials on Wednesday saw the pistol duo of Saurabh Chaudhary and Aishwary Pratap come up with an inspired show in New Delhi.

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While Saurabh Chaudhary topped the charts at the Dr. Karni Singh Shooting Range in the 10m Air Pistol with a total score of 588, Aishwary Pratap was on top the 50m Rifle 3 Positions event with a total of 1178. In the 10m Air Pistol, the 17-year-old Saurabh Chaudhary enjoyed a fine day as he barely fell below 97 in each of the six rounds of firing, and even managed a perfect 100 in the fifth.

The Tokyo Olympic quota winner, Saurabh Chaudhary, will hope to build on this run once the season kicks off in the coming months. Close on his heels was his fellow Olympic 2020 quota winner Abhishek Verma who managed 585 in his six rounds. 

Though the 30-year-old started brightly, challenging Saurabh Chaudhary in the initial two rounds, a 95 in the third round saw him fall short at the end. Meanwhile, the 2018 Youth Olympic gold medalist Manu Bhaker was eighth with a total score of 574 while Yashaswini Singh Deswal was rooted to the bottom with a score of 570.

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Meanwhile, in the 50m Rifle 3 Positions event, Aishwary Pratap was in complete control of the proceedings as he barely put a foot wrong. While Anjum Moudgil took the challenge to the 19-year-old in the prone position, the 26-year-old from Chandigarh couldn’t continue the same run in the standing position, allowing Aishwary Pratap to regain the control of the proceedings.

While Aishwary Pratap shot 1178 on aggregate (393 kneelings, 393 prone, 392 standing) to take the top spot, Anjum Moudgil managed 1174 (391 kneelings, 399 prone, 384 standing). India had pulled out of the Nicosia Shotgun World Cup earlier this month and the New Delhi combined World Cup was postponed due to the global COVID-19 outbreak. As a result, it was decided to conduct the trials for those selected in the Indian shooting teams for those two events, to allow them to post their final remaining scores before the announcement of the Olympic team.

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Olympic Shotgun: Olympic gold medalist Bindra urges NRAI to wait to name Tokyo Olympic shooting squad

Bindra, the only Indian shooter to win Olympic gold, told the Sports star magazine that the NRAI should “tune the selection policy quickly to ensure the best team represents the country” at the rescheduled Games. Olympic lovers from all over the world are called to book Olympic 2020 tickets from our online platforms for Olympic Tickets. Olympic Shotgun lovers can book Olympic Shotgun Tickets from our ticketing marketplace exclusively on reduced prices.

A total of 15 Indian athletes have secured a quota place in shooting at Tokyo 2020, now set to take place from July 23 to August 8 in 2021. The selection of the Indian squad in shooting, the nation’s second-most successful sport at the Games, has been the subject of debate since the postponement of Tokyo 2020 was confirmed last week.

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“It may not help to announce the team, and hope that they all would be in prime form when the Olympics comes around,” Bindra, a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Athletes’ Commission, said.

A year is a long time, particularly in a sport like shooting. Tune the policy speedily to ensure the best team represents the country in the Olympic 2020 Games. There may be a rejig in the team, even though the course had been completed and the team was to be announced.

Apurvi Chandela, a double International Shooting Sport Federation World Cup gold medalist, believes the team should be announced as soon as possible. I feel if the team is announced now, the shooters can focus on the Olympics and train with only positive pressure, she told the Times of India.

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The federation can check shooters’ performance in say, December or January, if they do not find any shooter’s performance acceptable, they can replace him/her with the next in ranking.  They will still have time. The qualification process for Tokyo Olympic, the first Olympic to be postponed in history, is set to be finalized by the IOC later this month.

The IOC has already confirmed athletes who had qualified for the Olympic 2020 Games will keep their place at the rearranged Games. Nearly 90 percent of shooting’s Summer Games quota places for the Games in the Japanese capital has been filled.

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Olympic Shotgun: Shooter Sanjeev Rajput Reveals new Training Regime

Veteran Indian rifle shooter Sanjeev Rajput has resorted to dry practice and yoga in self-isolation keeping an eye on retaining his sharpness ahead of the Tokyo Olympic. In dry rehearsal, a shooter tends to fire a fireman, an object hung on a wall, but without any ammunition. This serves the purpose of preserving ammunition as well as honing one’s skill.

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We must remain indoors for the next three weeks or till the time the situation improves. But I am doing dry practice (or dry firing) at home besides yoga and meditation, Sanjeev Rajput told the Press Trust of India. With a massive upsurge in coronavirus cases inducing a lockdown throughout the world, athletes preparing for the Olympic have suffered a huge blow as they must recalibrate their plans.

Sanjeev Rajput, who secured his Tokyo Olympic quota by winning a silver medal in the men’s 50m Rifle 3 Positions event at the ISSF World Cup in Rio de Janeiro, has already come to terms with the fact. I have been preparing for the Olympic 2020 Games for more than three years, hoping to go there and perform at the biggest period.

We simply don’t have any choice now but to postpone the Olympic 2020. I support the conclusion; we know it is for our well-being. The 39-year-old rifle shooter from Haryana has competent for four Olympic on the trot now, representing India in three of them. His allocation at the 2016 Olympic was given to a shotgun shooter.

“Also, I have a back-up rifle which I will start using once the range opens. Using a fresh barrel means I need to get used to it in time for the Tokyo Olympic next year,” Sanjeev Rajput told.

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Sanjeev Rajput made a comeback with a gold medal at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and Asian Games in 2018 thereby increasing his chances of a place at the Tokyo Olympic this time. I will upgrade my equipment now. The jacket and trousers I use now and which I was going to use in Tokyo later this year, are good enough to last me only 5-6 months. 

Tokyo 2020 now postponed, Sanjeev Rajput will now have to upgrade his rifle and get acquainted with the new one as soon as the lockdown gets lifted. His current equipment was chosen keeping in mind the originally-scheduled dates of the Olympic 2020. I had gone to Birmingham in February and chosen my ammunition for the Tokyo Olympic. I doubt that can wait till next year.

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Olympic Shotgun: ISSF supports new Tokyo Olympic schedule, allocated quotas to remain valid

The Tokyo Olympic berths that have already been taken will still be valid for the next year’s Olympic. The International Sports Shooting Federation (ISSF) voiced support for the new dates of the late Olympic 2020 Games in a declaration on Monday and confirmed all allocated quota places will remain valid.

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The ISSF has supported the suggestion from the IOC and Tokyo Olympic Organizing Committee to host the Games of the XXXII Olympiad from 23rd July to 8th August 2021, the statement read, reports Xinhua news agency.

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According to the statement, the Tokyo Olympic berths that have already been taken will still be valid and the world shooting governing body will address to the IOC a suggestion to follow the facility stipulated in 2017, which means 12 quotas, one in each event, will be allocated based on world rankings as of May 31, 2020.

The remaining 16 qualification quotas assigned to the European Shooting Confederation, which have not been presented so far, can be won during the 2021 competitions. The International Shooting Sport Federation said it supported the proposal.

Given a very low probability that any qualification competitions would be held this season, the ISSF will address to the IOC with a proposal to leave unchanged the provision to allocate 12 quota places according to the world rankings (one in each event) as of 31st May 2020, which was stipulated in the qualification system approved in 2017.

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After a new closing date for the Olympic qualification has been decided with the IOC, a schedule will be approved to regulate the procedure of how to exchange and reallocate quota places, including those which will not be distributed by the IOC Tripartite Commission, the statement.

China has secured a full 10 quotas for pistol and rifle apiece for the first time in history after the World Cup in Rio de Janeiro in August 2019. The country has also found five slots in shotgun events. This process will be started immediately.

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