Indian hockey teams to go through complex Olympics qualification process

With Japan winning a historic double in Jakarta, the remaining part of the qualifying process goes through an assortment of tournaments under the new system adopted by the International Hockey Federation.

Twelve teams each participate in the men’s and women’s hockey competitions at the Olympics.   -  AFP

The Indian national hockey teams will have to go through a complex qualification process if they are to participate in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics after the men’s side finished third at the just-concluded Asian Games and the women’s team won silver.

Twelve teams each participate in the men’s and women’s hockey competitions at the Olympics. The host nation and the five continental champions – from Africa, Asia, Europe, the Americas and Oceania – automatically qualify for the mega event.

But with Japan winning a historic double in Jakarta, the remaining part of the qualifying process goes through an assortment of tournaments under the new system adopted by the International Hockey Federation.

The rules state that Japan’s “place will be taken by the next highest ranked team in the FIH world ranking at the end of the 2019 continental championships. In this case, there will be seven qualifying events and the additional place will be allocated to the next highest ranked team in the World rankings.”

The qualification system makes it clear: “Should the host nation Japan be highest placed in the 18th Asian Games 2018, the second placed nation does not subsequently qualify and the quota place will be allocated to the Olympic qualification events.”

Four top teams from the 2019 edition of the Hockey Pro League (comprising some top-ranked sides in the world), six from three Hockey Series Finals (a tournament for lower-ranked teams) and the two highest ranked teams in the FIH world rankings (at the end of the continental championships in 2019) will make it to the Olympic qualifying events, which are scheduled for October and November 2019.

Among the 14 teams, the top three will play the bottom three, while the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh will play the eight, ninth, 10th, 11th following a random draw.