The losing semifinalists in hockey may get a shot at Olympic gold in the Tokyo Games if one of the finalists is forced out because of COVID-19 as the afflicted side's last-four stage opponent would then be elevated to the summit clash.
This has been made clear in the Games' Sport-Specific Regulations (SSR) unveiled on Sunday. The SSR has been developed jointly by International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the International Federations (IFs) to determine the impact of a confirmed positive COVID-19 case and its management in competition formats and structures.
"In Hockey, teams unable to compete due to COVID-19 will not be disqualified and will be marked as DNS (Did Not Start). In case a team in the knockout stages is no longer able to compete due to COVID-19 their minimum ranking achieved will be protected and, if time allows, their opponent will advance to the next round.
"Therefore, if a team is unable to participate in the final, the team that was eliminated by the COVID-19 impacted team will be brought into the final to compete for the medal on the field of play. The other losing semifinalist will be awarded the bronze medal," the regulations developed for hockey read.
The regulations, however, did not say what could be the possible scenario if both finalist teams end up being affected by the virus. It also did not specify what happens in case COVID-19 ends up affecting even the losing semifinalists.
India is competing in both the men's and women's hockey competitions.
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Last month, the IOC Executive Board had underlined the three main principles to provide consistency across sports where possible while developing the guidelines.
The principles taken into consideration by the IOC were: "No athlete or team should be designated as 'disqualified' for COVID-19 reasons, instead 'Did Not Start (DNS)' or an equivalent sport-specific designation will be used where the athletes or team cannot take part in competition.
"The minimum result of the athlete/team will be protected, considering the phase of competition at which they could not compete.
"(And) where possible the place of an athlete or team unable to compete will be filled by the next most eligible athlete or team..." The IOC developed the SSR as a contingency measure that will be put in motion in case a confirmed COVID case is reported in any sport so as to ensure a smooth conduct of events.
The Tokyo Olympics are scheduled to be held from July 23 to August 8 under extraordinary circumstances owing to the raging COVID-19 pandemic. The Games were turned into a 'TV-only event' after the Japanese government barred spectators inside venues following imposition of emergency to control the spread of the deadly virus.
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