IBU Qualification Points

A Simplified Explanation

The IBU, The International Biathlon Union is the highest international body of the sport of Biathlon. The IBU determines and enforces the rules and regulations of the sport including qualifications to compete at World Cup, The Olympics, World Championships, IBU Cup and holds international biathlon events ranging from the highest ranked, World Cup to the Junior IBU Cup events.

So as to be able to rank athletes, the IBU uses a formula to rank every athlete who competes at Open IBU events, that is, at World Cup, World Championships, Open European Championships and IBU Cup. IBU Q points are not calculated for any junior nor youth event. Accordingly, no matter where the race is held and no matter who the winner is in any race, using the standardised IBU Race and Penalty Factors, all competitors can be ranked in a standardised manner.  This standardisation rank commenced after the 2014 Sochi Olympics. See: IBU Qualifying Point Calculations. 

The IBU Q points are necessary to determine qualification for competition at IBU events.  Personal qualification points are the average of the 3 best results in a defined current time period.  To gain a start place, a personal qualification isn't sufficient - the Nation, additionally,  must be able to secure starting places at World Cup, World Championships and Olympics. So, to gain a start place, the athlete must firstly earn the requisite average IBU Points AND additionally, then earn a start at the event called "Quota place".

The IBU Competition Race rules sets out a determined number of places for top ranked nations. For those nations, which do not have the requisite World Cup Nation Cup Points, there are a handful of "Wild Card"* Quota places.

Here's a brief summary of the qualifications to race at these IBU competitions:

  • World Cup  = personal qualification of < 150 IBU points AND 8 wild card* places for those athletes whose nations are not in the top 25 Nations

  • World Championships = personal qualification of < 180 IBU points AND 10 wild card *places for those athletes whose nations are not in the top 30 Nations

  • Winter Olympics 2022 = personal qualification of < 180 IBU points AND 12 wild card* places for those athletes whose nations are not in the top 20 Nations

  • IBU Cup = to continue to race in the following trimester requires qualification of just one race at < 250 points. 

* Wild Cards

Although termed Wild Cards, there's nothing wild nor random about this term. Wild Cards are issued in order of rank of IBU Points, to athletes whose nations do not have the required World Cup Nation Cup Points.  These are issued in order of merit.

World Cup Nation Cup points are earned based on numbers of entrants to World Cup by a Nation and naturally, how well they perform. AUS, a small nation is unable to field numbers of athletes at World Cup and like many small Biathlon Nations, unlikely ever to be within the top 30 let alone top 25 or top 22 World Cup Nations. As a result, for a World Cup Quota Place, AUS competes for the coveted few "Wild Card" places offered to athletes from these nations outside of the top 25 nations. For Women in 2020-21, AUS competes for these places with European nations including Moldova, Great Britain, Belgium, Romania, Greenland and Croatia. The competition is strong, meaning, one requires IBU Q Points of well under 130 in order to earn a World Cup Quota Place.  Just getting a personal qualification with an average of 150 IBU Q points for a place at World Cup or 180 to earn a place at World Championships is, simply not a strong enough result.

As you can see, for a place at the Winter Olympics, 2022, there are secured quota places only for the top 20 nations. This means for those vying for the 12 Wild Card places, they'd need an average of UNDER 100 IBU Q points.

To understand fully IBU Q points, please read the IBU Event and Competition Rules

How to Locate the Athlete's IBU Q Points

The IBU publishes every competitor's IBU Q points after each race (Open class only). Follow these steps to locate the IBU Q points at any IBU race event.

1. Go to the IBU Race Calendar: https://www.biathlonworld.com/calendar/#/event-5

On a desktop or lap top, go to the top nav bar and select "Datacenter"

On a mobile phone, it'll look like this. See the little horizontal lines at the top left. Press on that.

2. Select "DataCenter"

3. Select the race.


A page open up with the list of final results for the race. Most folk stop here.


4. However, should you wish to see the race analysis and IBU Q points for each of the competitors in the race, then, select "Reports". You'll find it on the horizontal bar just above the list of results. Take a look at where the arrow's pointing in the RH image.

5. This is the page of detailed analysis and reports. 

To find the IBU Q points earned for that race, select "IBU Qualifying Points".

6. You can either view the page under "Report Viewer" or download that page.  The far RH image shows what the page of IBU Q points (for just that particular race) looks like.  

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Using the IBU's Race Penalty Factor, one can estimate any competitor's IBU Q points.

You can read up on the race penalty factor in the IBU's Event and Competition Rules.  see IBU Qualifying Point Calculations


For example, the IBU doesn't publish IBU Q points at Junior World Championships, but there will be competitors there who are on the World Cup Circuit and accordingly, have IBU Q points. Invariably the top performers at Junior World Champs will be on the World Cup Circuit and one is able to work out their current IBU Points. Using the formula described in section of the IBU Event and Competition Rules, one can estimate the points for any other competitor in that race. One does this to determine performance, how much to improve, how much improved to date, if one has a Personal Best or % to work towards, all meaningful measures.  Remember, this is an estimate only.

You could use the same process to estimate performance at a non-IBU race, say, a biathlon nation's National Biathlon races.  Mind you, these would only be estimates and a guide only, however it is a useful tool for an estimated measure of performance.