Rowing has been part of the Olympic Games since the start and has developed into a regatta programme that includes 14 boat classes – seven for men, seven for women. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) sets a quota of rowers for each Olympic Games. This quota means that World Rowing must carry out qualification regattas. The main qualification regatta is the World Rowing Championships that are held in the year prior to the Olympic Games. There are also continental qualification regattas for Africa, Asia/Oceania, Latin America and Europe. A last chance, final qualification regatta is also held about three months before the Olympic Games.
The Olympic regatta follows a progression system of heats through to finals and is held over eight days in the first week of the Olympic Games.