Olympic

Mexico’s Olympic team could lose 20 players for rescheduled Games

With confirmation that the Tokyo Olympics have been postponed until 2021, Mexico’s national soccer team will in principle lose up to 19 players who will now not meet the age limit.

Mexico’s Olympic team could lose 20 players for rescheduled Games

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed on Tuesday to postpone the Olympics until 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic to safeguard the health of athletes and everyone involved in the event.

Among the many, many other problems the organisers face in rescheduling the games to 2021, the IOC will have to also decide how to apply the age limit rules to the men’s soccer tournament that is Under-23, with players eligible up to 23 years and 6 months old, but it remains to be seen when the cut-off will be for the OIympics being held next year, and whether players who would have been eligible in the summer of 2020 could be disqualified in 2021, because they are now too old to represent their country.

“All the soccer players that participate in the Tokyo Olympics are to be born on 1 January, 1997 or after. Each country that qualifies to the tournament are allowed to include 3 players that exceed the age limit to complete the final roster,” reads the official rules. If these rules are strictly updated the new age limit will be 1 January, 1998 for the Olympics to be held in 2021.

Concacaf Men’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament rescheduled

The date has not been officially set for the Tokyo Olympics next year but they will most likely take place in July of 2021 and by that time many of the players of Mexico’s current men's Under-23 soccer national team will be 24-years-old. The women's tournament is unaffected by this situation because there is no age limit under FIFA and IOC rules.

Mexico are still to qualify for the Olympics, but have already submitted their 20-player Under-23 roster for the Concacaf Men's Olympic Qualifying Championship scheduled to take place from March 20 to April 1 in Guadalajara, Mexico. That is now postponed and still to be rescheduled. Twelve of those 20 footballers will not meet the age limit in 2021, which would greatly affect the team, according to head coach Jaime Lozano.

In addition to the players in the squad for the qualifying championships there are a further eight in the list of 50 pre-selected players for the Games themselves, who could go if Mexico qualify. For example, Edson Álvarez will be 23 years, 8 months and 27 days old in the Olympics of next year. 

Exception to the rule

Although many players will not meet the age limit in 2021, Article 55 of the tournament regulations states that in ‘extraordinary cases’ FIFA will come up with a resolution to the problem in conjunction with the IOC in order to reach a definitive decision.

For the older players the hope remains that, with the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic, FIFA and the IOC will allow players to take part in next summer's Olympics as if they had taken place this summer, with the rule effectively being extended for year to set the cut-off point at 24 years and 6 months.