Heba ALLEJJI will create history at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games by becoming the first ever Syrian player to play in an Olympics Table Tennis event.

The world number 667 secured her golden ticket to Rio, courtesy of the Tripartite place, which only National Olympic Committees who have an average of less than eight athletes at the last two Olympic Games can apply for.

Despite the the problems in her country, the 19-year-old ALLEJII is no stranger to international competition, having competed at the 2016 Asia Olympic Qualification Tournament, the 2016 ITTF World Tour Qatar Open and the 2015 Asian Junior Championships.

The International Olympic Committee’s Tripartite Commission will grant ALLEJII her first Olympic Games appearance, while the male place goes to the 2013 Latin American Champion Marcelo AGUIRRE, to secure his third consecutive Olympics experience.

The world number 228 was present in Beijing in 2008 when he was just 15 years old, where he also received the Tripartite place, before qualifying for London 2012 Olympic Games through the Latin American Qualification event.

At the recent ITTF-Latin American Olympic Games Qualification Tournament earlier this year, the 23-year-old just missed qualification. He was beaten in the battle for the last remaining place by Brazil’s world number 77 and top seeded Gustavo TSUBOI by the minimal two-point margin in the deciding seventh game: 11-9, 8-11, 11-8, 11-8, 5-11, 3-11.

Tripartite places at Olympic Games, like Universality places at Youth Olympic Games, aim to provide universal representation as a fundamental aspect of the Olympic Games.

There is a detailed pathway for the Tripartite places that started with a National Olympic Committee (NOC) application to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) being submitted by the deadline of Friday 15th January.

IOC then makes a decision based on the following criteria:

  • NOC priority : based on NOC preferences, as specified in the applications submitted
  • ITTF priority: based on the assessment of the athlete’ technical level and sporting merit during the qualification period
  • IOC priority: based on various principles in relation to the objectives of the Commission,
  • including:
    • Universality (by allowing more NOCs to participate in a given sport)
    • Continental balance
    • Gender equity
    • NOC and athlete eligibility
    • Technical level to compete safely and with dignity (based on the IF’s assessment)
    • Olympic scholarships for athletes (provided by Olympic Solidarity

For the Olympic Games, there is one male and one female tripartite place. For the Youth Olympic Games, there was previously four male and three female places, however the number of available universality quotas will be approved later for the upcoming 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

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