IOC agrees to raise short track minimum age limit for Milan Cortina 2026

IOC agrees to raise short track minimum age limit for Milan Cortina 2026
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A new minimum age limit has been approved for the short track speed skating competition at the 2026 Winter Olympics in Milan and Cortina d'Ampezzo.

The International Skating Union (ISU) has ruled that only skaters that have reached the age of at least 17 before July 1 in 2025 should be eligible to compete at Milan Cortina 2026.

The new age requirement for the Games has been given the green light by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board after accepting a request from the ISU.

The move comes after the ISU Congress in June last year agreed to raise the age limit from 15 to 16 from the 2023-2024 season and 17 from after that.

The ruling applies to figure skating, speed skating, short track speed skating and synchronised skating.

Criticism had been levelled at the ISU during Beijing 2022 after Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva, who was 15 at the time, was at the centre of a doping scandal.

The World Anti-Doping Agency wants a four-year ban for Valieva, and an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport for further sanctions than those imposed by a Russian Anti-Doping Agency Disciplinary Committee is due to be heard later this month.

The IOC Executive Board has agreed to raise the minimum age limit for short track and approved the speed skating qualification system for Milan Cortina 2026 ©IOC
The IOC Executive Board has agreed to raise the minimum age limit for short track and approved the speed skating qualification system for Milan Cortina 2026 ©IOC

The IOC Executive Board also decided at a meeting in Lausanne on Friday (September 8) to approve the qualification system for speed skating.

The criteria follows the same pathway that was in place for Beijing 2022.

Athletes will compete for quota places across 14 disciplines including men’s 500 metres, men’s 1,000m, men’s 1,500m, men’s 5,000m, men’s 10,000m, men’s mass start and men’s team pursuit as well as women’s 500m, women’s 1,000m, women’s 1,500m, women’s 3,000m, women’s 3,000m, women’s 5,000m, women’s mass start and women’s team pursuit.

A total of 164 spots will be up for grabs for Milan Cortina 2026 including 82 for men and 82 for women.

The period for achieving qualifying times is set to run from July 1 in 2025 to January 18 in 2026.

Speed skating and short track speed skating qualification systems are the latest to be approved by the IOC after ice hockey was agreed in March and biathlon, curling, figure skating, short track speed skating and ski mountaineering were ratified in June.

Photo: Getty Images
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