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This is How U.S. Triathletes Qualify for the Tokyo Olympics

By USA Triathlon | May 10, 2021, 10:48 p.m. (ET)

The final auto-selection event for the U.S. Olympic Triathlon Team was May 15 in Yokohama. Taylor Knibb and Morgan Pearson each punched their tickets to the Tokyo Olympics by auto-qualifying via their first- and third-place finishes, respectively. 

Knibb and Pearson join Summer Rappaport as the only U.S. triathletes who have qualified for Tokyo via auto-selection.

Now, all remaining spots on the Olympic Team will be named via discretion by the USA Triathlon Games Athletes Selection Committee. 

Here are all the details about how the U.S. Olympic Triathlon Team is selected. 

How many U.S. triathletes will go to the Olympics?


A maximum of three athletes per country and gender (i.e., three men, three women) can race in Tokyo, if three athletes rank in the top-30 of the World Triathlon Individual Olympic Qualification Rankings by the end the World Triathlon Olympic qualification window on June 14, 2021. All individual athletes must also be ranked in the top 140 on World Triathlon’s Olympic Qualification list. Based on rankings as of June 10, the U.S. expects to send three women to Tokyo, and the final number of men will be determined after June 14. In total, 55 men and 55 women will qualify for the individual races at the Tokyo Games.

Is anyone already qualified for the U.S. Olympic Triathlon Team?

The 2019 Tokyo ITU World Olympic Qualification Event held on Aug. 14, 2019, was the first auto-selection event for the U.S. Olympic Triathlon Team. Summer Rappaport earned automatic selection to the 2020 U.S. Olympic Triathlon Team by finishing as the top American within the top-eight in the women’s race (she placed fifth). Taylor Knibb earned automatic selection to the 2020 U.S. Olympic Triathlon Team by winning gold in the women's race at the World Triathlon Championship Series Yokohama, the final auto-selection event. On the men's side, Morgan Pearson earned automatic selection by earning bronze at Yokohama. 

How did auto-qualification work in Yokohama?

The World Triathlon Championship Series Yokohama was the second and final auto-selection event for the U.S. Olympic Triathlon Team. Athletes could be auto-selected to the U.S. Olympic Triathlon Team by way of their performance in Yokohama under the following circumstances:

  • In the women’s race, the first U.S. athlete finishing on the podium, who has not already qualified for the team, will earn automatic selection. (E.g., only one U.S. woman can auto-qualify at this event, and she must be on the podium).
  • Because no U.S. men were auto-selected from the 2019 ITU World Olympic Qualification Event, the highest-placed U.S. man finishing within the top-eight overall will be selected to the team.
  • Two men may be selected to the team at Yokohama, in the event that both finish on the podium.

After Yokohama, how will the remaining Olympic spots be filled?

All remaining slots will be issued via final nomination to the team by the USA Triathlon Games Athletes Selection Committee on June 16, 2021, which is two days after the close of the Olympic Qualification Period (June 14) and after World Triathlon will inform USA Triathlon of its final athlete quota allocation.

The complete 2020 U.S. Olympic Triathlon Team for Tokyo will be publicly announced on Wednesday, June 16.

What about the Mixed Relay team?

The four athletes who will comprise the U.S. Mixed Relay Team at the Olympic Games must come from among the U.S. Olympic Team members racing in the individual Olympic events. The final four-person mixed relay team will be determined after the individual Olympic races conclude in Tokyo. 

When are the Olympic and Paralympic Games?

Olympic Triathlon

  • Men: Sunday, July 25 at 5:30 p.m. ET (Event date/time in Tokyo is Monday, July 26 at 6:30 a.m.)
  • Women: Monday, July 26 at 5:30 p.m. ET (Event date/time in Tokyo is Tuesday, July 27 at 6:30 a.m.)
  • Mixed Relay: Friday, July 30 at 6:30 p.m. ET (Event date/time in Tokyo is Saturday, July 31: 7:30 a.m.)

Paralympic Triathlon

  • PT4 Men, PT2 Women, PT6 Men and Women: Friday, Aug. 27 at 5:30 p.m. ET (Event date/time in Tokyo is Saturday, Aug. 28 at 6:30 a.m.)
  • PTWC Men and Women, PT5 Men and Women: Saturday, Aug. 28 at 5:30 p.m. ET (Event date/time in Tokyo is Sunday, Aug. 29 at 6:30 a.m.)

How is the U.S. Paralympic Team selected?

There is no auto-selection process for the 2020 U.S. Paralympic Triathlon Team, but there are three key Selection Events. Athletes may be nominated to the team via their performances at said events after the U.S. receives its country slot quota. Selection Event #1 was the 2019 Tokyo ITU Paratriathlon World Cup on Aug. 15-18, 2019, but it was removed as a key selection race because the swim was canceled. Selection Event #2 was originally scheduled to be the 2020 Sarasota PATCO Paratriathlon Pan American Championships on March 14-15, 2020; however, the event was canceled due to COVID-19. Selection Event #2 was rescheduled as the 2021 Americas Triathlon Para Championships in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin, on June 27, 2021. Selection Event #3 was the 2019 ITU Paratriathlon World Championships in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Sept. 1, 2019.

In addition to the Selection Events, other factors such as performances at 2019, 2020, and 2021 World Triathlon and USA Triathlon-sanctioned events, ranking on the World Triathlon Paralympic Qualification list, head-to-head performances, and relevant and verified training data, will also be considered by the USA Triathlon Paralympic Games Athlete Selection Committee as discretionary evaluation criteria.

In addition, there will be a minimum of 8 bipartite invitation slots offered to specific athletes, worldwide, by World Triathlon (the international federation) after the closing of the Paralympic Games qualifying points window. U.S. athletes may receive a bipartite invitation(s), but this is separate from the way that quota spots in each sport class are filled (e.g., the athletes added via bipartite invitations would be in addition to the country quota spots already filled via USA Triathlon’s selection criteria).

The complete 2020 U.S. Paralympic Team for Tokyo will be named in mid-July (the exact date TBD).

For more information about USA Triathlon’s road to the Tokyo Olympics, visit usatriathlon.org/Tokyo2020. In addition, USA Triathlon is sharing the stories of U.S. elite triathletes in the lead-up to the Games with its Tokyo United campaign. Follow @usatriathlon on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to find these stories and more Olympic- and Paralympic-themed #TokyoUnited content.