15/20 kg rule – 20 kg rule update

The 15/20 kg rule is now the 20 kg rule

This one is just a quick update to an old post I wrote on the 15/20 kg rule.

In the spirit of gender equality, the 15/20 kg rule was updated in the beginning of 2017 to the 20 kg rule. Many of us call it the 20/20 kg rule but technically that is redundant and incorrect. Whatever.

Section 6.6.5 of the 2017 IWF Technical And Competition Rules & Regulations now reads:

The total weight of the starting attempts declared and actually taken in the Snatch and the Clean & Jerk must equal or exceed the weight of the verified Entry Total minus twenty (20)kg. The Jury will exclude the athlete from the competition if this rule is not adhered to. The above rule is commonly referred to as the “20 kg Rule”.

No mention of gender so it applies to everyone. What was a 15 kg requirement for women is now the same 20 kg for both men and women.

Is the new 20 kg rule form over substance?

The addition of the 90 kg and +90 kg weight categories was a meaningful step toward gender equality in the sport. This one, however, feels like form over substance. It doesn’t do much.

In my original post, I mention the 15/20 kg rule, when implemented, limited the ability of nations to game (lie about) the entry totals of lifters to place them into higher sessions at major competitions.

At major events a Verification of Final Entries (VFE) Meeting occurs. At that meeting athletes on the pre-competition entry list have their name, date of birth, bodyweight category, and entry total confirmed. The latter two can be changed. Entry totals used at IWF events can be made up. They don’t have to reflect actual prior performance. In order to position lifters team officials often gamble on a false number. This rule puts a restraint on that game. I think, unscientifically, female lifters tend to do about 75% of their male counterparts. So the 15/20 kg rule when created married to that.

There are no qualifying totals for IWF events so I’ll use the US Nationals as an example to illustrate how lighter lifters have more leeway.

Look at the men’s qualifying totals and the required minimum openers as a percentage of that total using the 20kg rule. You’ll see minimum required openers range from 89.7% to 93.5% as the totals get heavier by category.

Weight Total Min  Min 
Category  Weight Open % of Total
56kg 194kg 174kg 89.7%
62kg 223kg 203kg 91.0%
69kg 246kg 226kg 91.9%
77kg 274kg 254kg 92.7%
85kg 289kg 269kg 93.1%
94kg 300kg 280kg 93.3%
105kg 305kg 285kg 93.4%
+105kg 310kg 290kg 93.5%

Now look at the minimum percentage of total of the women’s categories under the old 15/20 kg rule. Slightly lower but not materially different.

Weight Total Min  Min 
Category  Weight Open % of Total
48kg 133kg 118kg 88.7%
53kg 149kg 134kg 89.9%
58kg 163kg 148kg 90.8%
63kg 170kg 155kg 91.2%
69kg 179kg 164kg 91.6%
75kg 189kg 174kg 92.1%
90kg 192kg 177kg 92.2%
+90kg 194kg 179kg 92.3%

Add in 5 kgs under the new rule and you see this futher lowers, on a percentage basis, how heavy female lifters have to open compared to the qualifying totals. It also increases the range to open between the lightest and heaviest categories within the gender.

Weight Total Min  Min 
Category  Weight Open % of Total
48kg 133kg 113kg 85.0%
53kg 149kg 129kg 86.6%
58kg 163kg 143kg 87.7%
63kg 170kg 150kg 88.2%
69kg 179kg 159kg 88.8%
75kg 189kg 169kg 89.4%
90kg 192kg 172kg 89.6%
+90kg 194kg 174kg 89.7%

Simple math shows as the minimum total goes up for the heavier categories the required minimum openers as a percentage of that total also goes up. Under the 15/20 kg rule the range was about 3.5% from the lightest to heaviest categories for women. Now, under the 20 kg rule, that spread is 4.7%. If there was an imbalance or inequality to review when amending the rule it is probably this.

Instead of creating a sliding scale and the potential confusion to accompany it, this change merely makes an already simple rule more simple. Nothing more.

In the end, it comes down to what a lifter actually finishes with so this is not a big deal. Just PR. What does matter is that if you fall outside of the limit at a major event you are out of the competition


Another quick one on a rule that tends to cause confusion. In a prior post on costume, I mentioned that for whatever reason a sock couldn’t cover the patella.

That was provision 4.1.8 in the old IWF TCRR which read “Socks may be worn, but must not cover the knees.”

In the newest TCRR that line is omitted from section 4.1 which covers athlete’s outfit. Given that a unitard worn under the costume or a knee wrap/sleeve can cover the knee, why not a sock? It still says, however, in section 4.1.1 that a costume (aka singlet) may not cover the knee. Kudos in advance to anyone who busts out 70s style tube socks on the platform.