Fourteen teams each, both in men's and women's sections, will join the do or die battles starting tomorrow to secure their berths in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. It is the first qualification process of its kind as the next two weekends (October 25-27 & November 1-3) will see some fascinating hockey matches.
The seven winning teams in each gender will join Japan men and women, who qualified as both hosts and as Asian champions. The other four continental champions are also qualified, namely Argentina men and women, South Africa men and women, Netherlands women, New Zealand women, Belgium men and Australia men.
Participants in the Olympic Qualifiers booked their places through one of three avenues: nations that finished first or second in the FIH Series Finals that took place earlier in the year; nations that finished in the top 4 of the inaugural FIH Pro League but did not win their Continental Championship; or by virtue of their FIH World Ranking.
Within each gender, the 14 teams have been drawn into seven pairs, and they will play a double header over two consecutive days with the scores from both matches added together. As French player Charles Masson pointed out: “It is two times 60 minutes, so we must be patient.”
The first weekend of action sees some interesting match-ups with much potential for upset. In the women's section, Australia will take on Russia and China plays Belgium. In the third game in women;s section, Spain has been drawn to play Korea. In the men's section, Spain has been drawn to face France while the Netherlands takes on Pakistan.