In 1973, the IOC Programming Commission and the FIG engaged in a delicate dance in which the IOC presented a list of concerns and the FIG had to come up with solutions that appeased the IOC. (This wasn’t new. For example, in 1957, this dance led to the elimination of group rhythmic exercises in women’s gymnastics and the creation of event finals.)
In 1973, one of the IOC’s concerns was the number of gymnasts per country in the all-around and event finals. The FIG’s solution allowed only three gymnasts per country into the all-around finals and two gymnasts per country into the apparatus finals.
Keep in mind that the apparatus finals, in particular, were heavily dominated by the top teams. For example, at the 1972 Olympics, there were four Soviet gymnasts in the women’s vault finals, four Japanese gymnasts in the men’s floor finals, and five Japanese gymnasts in the men’s high bar finals. (There were only six gymnasts per final.)
Another interesting tidbit: The IOC was already pushing to reduce team sizes to five members in 1973.
Below, you will find the letter that the FIG published in its Bulletin of Information in December 1973 (issue no. 4).