The situation is quite complex and there are many scenarios we could examine:
• There are three North Americans in the running and if, as would be expected, USA qualifies in Athens, then the Miami continental in 2020 will be a run off between BER and CUB.
• Likewise for the South American place, if BRA qualifies in Athens then CHI and VEN will fight for the continental place.
• If AUS qualifies in Athens, then the chances are there would be no Oceania Continental qualifier, so one more place would be allocated to the next nation in Athens. This is what happened during the Rio 2016 qualification process and could give the Europeans another chance for Tokyo. The Oceania Continental will be at the 2019 Finn Gold Cup in Melbourne, seven months after Athens, so in this scenario, whoever is next in line after Athens will have a long nervous wait to see if any other Oceania nations stick their neck out and try to qualify.
• In a worst-case scenario for the Europeans if USA, BRA and AUS qualify in Athens (and that is far from unlikely), then the number of potential places left available for Europeans drops to two – one in Athens and one in Genoa. That scenario could leave a lot of very good European sailors sidelined for Tokyo.
• For the Asian place, CHN, HKG, IRI, and possibly IND, are in the running, and this is expected to be decided at the continental qualifier in Japan.
• Likewise for Africa, the continental place is expected to be decided between RSA and NAM, but there is the possibility of several other nations joining, though the venue, event, or dates are undecided as yet.
The continental qualification system, while providing guaranteed opportunities to sailors from all continents to take part, does stack the odds against the more numerous European sailors. In addition, because of the low numbers of places available in Tokyo – the lowest ever for the Finn class at the Olympics at just 19 – it also could leave many top sailors watching rather than taking part. There are quite likely to be some significant omissions from the starting line in Tokyo, while sailors from the bottom quarter of the rankings may be able to compete because of their geographic origins.
However, whatever happens on the water, we are assured of a gladiatorial fight to the end for the few spots that are available. The competition will certainly be intense and exciting. And it all begins at the home of the Olympics, in Athens in just over three months time when the 2019 Finn Open European Championship gets underway.