According to the rules for the qualification for the Olympic team event, continental champions, the top three teams from this qualification tournament, and the Olympic host nation will qualify for the Olympic Games. The rules for the qualification for the Olympic duet event are somewhat complicated due to the large number of teams involved: the countries and regions which have qualified for the team event will automatically qualify for the duet event, which means eight pairs will automatically qualify for the Olympic Games. The remaining 16 pairs will be the top-ranked pair at the continental championships or continental games and the best-ranked pairs at this tournament, excluding those who have already earned their Olympic berths.
As the host of the Olympic Games, China can directly qualify for the Olympic team and duet competitions. However, China does not need this "host privilege" as Chinese swimmers won the team event at the 2006 Asian Games. So far, five countries have qualified for the 2008 Olympics:
- Russia (Europe)
- United States (America)
- Egypt (Africa)
- Australia (Oceania)
- China (Asia)
This time, six teams and 32 pairs will vie for three team spots and more than ten duet spots through the Beijing qualification tournament. Since Japan (the Athens Olympic team and duet runners-up and many-time world championships runners-up) will have to fight for a spot, the overall level of the tournament competition will be high. Besides Japan, Spain has earned a few bronze medals from the World Championships since 2003; Canada also used to be a medalist; and Italy has ranked among the world top six on several occasions. Ukraine and Greece have also been the finalists of the World Championships.