I don't know whether it would happen or not.

My question is,

What happen if two athletes touched the finish rope at the same time in running(irrespective of distance either it may be 100m or long distance)?

How the winner will be decided?

Will they run again for a shorter distance? (like super over in cricket, tie breaker penalty shoot out in football).

  • 8
    +1 for a non-cricket question (until I read the last line) :) ...and for an answer in regards to the Olympics (at the international level), see this.
    – user527
    Jun 24, 2013 at 13:23
  • 4
    Big competitions usually have cameras at the finish line to determine who was first. But I don't know what happens if that doesn't eve help - I'm quite sure though, that the athletes don't have to compete again. They will be placed according to other factors. Jun 24, 2013 at 13:56
  • +1, I am yet to hear something like that. They have cameras which captures even a fraction of seconds. So they always gets it.
    – iDev
    Jun 27, 2013 at 18:13
  • @ACB This did happen for USATF last year for Olympic qualifying.
    – user527
    Jul 11, 2013 at 16:23
  • @edmastermind29, I think I have seen that question and answer and had upvoted both(Because I can see it there). I didnt realize it when I commented here.
    – iDev
    Jul 11, 2013 at 18:09

1 Answer 1


First, it's important to understand what constitutes "finishing" a race in Track and Field. The winner is not the first person to get a body part across the line or "touch the tape" as you referred. The winner is the first person to get their torso across the finish line.

A situation similar to this occurred in the US Olympic trials for the 2012 London Olympics. Allyson Felix and Jeneba Tarmoh tied for 3rd (which was important because only the top 3 qualify for the Olympic team). Originally, Tarmoh was declared the winner by .0001 seconds, but later they determined it was a tie (the cameras they used shot at 3000 fps - quite capable of determining a tie).

If this were to happen in the Olympics, both would be awarded the bronze medal. If the tie were for 1st, they would both be awarded a gold medal and the 3rd finisher would be awarded a bronze and no silver would be awarded (This happened in 2000 when Gary Hall Jr. and Anthony Ervin tied in the 50M freestyle swim).

However, because only 3 members of team could qualify, a tie breaker was necessary. The USATF (nor the IAAF - the international governing body of T&F) had no rules in place to settle this particular tie, so they resorted to the following:

  • There will either be a coin flip or a run off.
  • Each runner will be allowed to pick which option they want. If they disagree, the tiebreaker will be a runoff.
  • If both runners decide not to pick an option, the tiebreaker will be a coin flip.

Eventually Jenebah Tarmoh pulled out from the tie-break and surrendered the spot to Felix.

A situation like this is obviously rare and will probably only happen in shorter distances.

  • 1
    One detail of breaking ties is that while times are announced and recorded only to the hundredth of a second (.01), the finish cameras can often determine thousandths (.001). This allows officials to break ties between athletes who are recorded as having the "same" finishing time.
    – pjmorse
    Sep 25, 2013 at 15:12

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