World Aquatics has announced that no entries were received for events in the new third ‘open’ category for elite swimming, which was set to make its debut at the Berlin World Cup this weekend.

An application deadline for the pilot project was left open until Saturday night but zero competitors registered for any of the 50m or 100m distances across all strokes, according to a release issued Tuesday.

It was the first attempt at staging such races, following the decision last year by the sport’s world governing body — then known as FINA — to ban trans women who have experienced any part of male puberty from women’s elite events.

When that decision was taken, a pledge was made to create a third ‘open’ category to ensure “everybody has the opportunity to compete at an elite level”, according to World Aquatics’ President, Husain Al-Musallam.

To be eligible for the ‘open’ category, swimmers had to be affiliated to a national federation.

In its statement, World Aquatics said its dedicated Working Group would carry on exploring how to implement a third ‘open’ category, despite there being no applicants for Berlin.

“The World Aquatics Open Category Working Group will continue its work and engagement with the aquatics community on Open Category events,” read the statement.

“Even if there is no current demand at the elite level, the working group is planning to look at the possibility of including Open Category races at Masters events in the future.”

The best-known trans woman elite swimmer, Lia Thomas — whose success in the 500-yard freestyle event at the NCAA Championships in March 2022 sparked controversy — had previously expressed interest in attempting to qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympics through the U.S. trials.

Lia Thomas’ performances at the NCAA Championships in Atlanta in March 2022 brought her to global attention.

However, after FINA members voted for the ban at an extraordinary congress in June 2022, she described the development as “deeply upsetting” and “discriminatory”, with her reaction suggesting she would not seek to participate in the third ‘open’ category.

In his comments after that vote, Al-Musallam had insisted that “FINA will always welcome every athlete… I want all athletes to feel included in being able to develop ideas during this process.”

Whether there will be interest in a third ‘open’ category at Masters events remains to be seen. The most recent World Aquatics Masters Championships were held in August in Kyushu, Japan, with the next edition scheduled for Doha, Qatar, in February and March 2024.

As for the World Cup, after the meet in Berlin, further events are scheduled for Athens and Budapest on the following weekends in October.