Sep 3, 2018

Road To Tokyo Olympics: How Can India Qualify For 2020 Olympics

Road ahead for Indian hockey

After missing out direct qualification for Tokyo Olympics through Asian Games, both Indian men and women team have a long and tedious journey ahead of them to qualify. It is not just long journey that Indian teams must worry about, FIH rankings will also play a major role in Indian teams’ quest for Olympics qualification.

NOTE: This also works for teams who are not able to qualify through continental championships. This article answers questions related to India. If you have questions related to your favorite team, please let us know in comments section and we will get back to you.

Before we talk about Indian teams, let us look at how teams can qualify for Olympics.
Hockey in Tokyo Olympics will feature 12 teams. The 12 teams who will play in Olympics will be as:

                     -ASIAN GAMES (Winners: Japan)
                     - PAN AMERICAN GAMES
                     - OCEANIA CUP


As host nation Japan has also won Asian Games, another qualification spot is added to Olympics Qualification tournament.

Let us try and address the Olympics qualifications through series of questions:

Q- How can teams qualify for the Olympics without winning qualifying tournaments?

If the teams are not able to win their respective continental tournaments, they will have to go through Qualifying tournaments what will be played in late 2019. As mentioned before Japan has already qualified because of being the host nation of Olympics, their winning Asian Games adds another spot in qualifying tournaments. So now there will be 7 teams going to Olympics through qualification tournaments. 

These 7 teams will be decided from the 14 teams that will enter the competition. Two teams will face each other 2 matches and team with highest aggregate of goals will qualify for the Olympics.

Q- How will those 14 teams be selected to participate in the qualification tournament.
14 teams selected for participation in Olympics Qualifying Event (OQE) will be take selected from:
-          Top four teams from Pro Hockey League
-          Top two teams from each of three Hockey Series Events (in total six teams)
-          Top ranked teams as per FIH Rankings (total four teams) *

*Top ranked FIH teams who failed to qualify through Continental Tournaments/Pro League/Hockey Series will take 4 spots for OQE.

NOTE: If any of top 4 placed teams of Pro League also win their continental championship, their place will be taken by next best ranked team as per FIH rankings.

Q- How does Olympics Qualification Event works?

Once we have all 14 teams, they will be placed in the lineup basis their FIH rankings. Top ranked FIH team will be given 1st place in the OQE and the lowest ranked FIH team will be given 14th spot in the lineup. Then the teams placed in 1st ,2nd and 3rd spot will face teams in 12th ,13th and 14th spot randomly. Similarly, teams who are placed from 4th to 7th will face teams placed 8th to 11th spot randomly.

The teams will face each other over two legs and the team with higher aggregate will qualify for Olympics. 

Q- So, how does it work for India?

First thing that Indian men must do is to make sure that its ranking does not go in to a freefall. Currently India is ranked 5th as per FIH rankings behind Australia, Argentina, Belgium and Netherlands. Winning bronze in Asian Games has surely has increased the gap against 6th place Germany by giving India 585 (final number will be calculated based on percentage) points but still India needs to do well in upcoming World Cup as even a 4th place finish for Germany in EuroHockey Championship will give them 600 points and anything better than that will take Germany to 5th place and India will go down to 6th place. So, a better ranking for Indian team will help India place better in OQE.

Of the top 4 teams of FIH rankings, Australia and Argentina are expected to win their respective continental championships so that will leave Belgium and Netherlands in top 2 position in OQE basis their FIH rankings. 5th place in FIH rankings will help India get in top 3 for OQE and will give India an easy opposition.

World Series will help India in getting to the OQE but then rankings is all that matters at the end of the day.

NOTE: Currently it is not mentioned that how many points will teams earn from World Series but doing well in World Series will also help India in gaining points and cementing position in FIH rankings

Q- What about Indian eves?

Unfortunately, the road is bit tougher for Indian women team when compared to men. They are currently placed in 9th position in FIH rankings and Silver medal win in Asian Games will propel Indian team in the FIH rankings.

As mentioned above, it once again it depends on how other teams perform and what spot does Indian team get in OQE.

There is no doubt that Indian team is not a pushover anymore backed by impressive performance in the World Cup (drawing against England and USA) and the team does have the caliber to beat top teams, but the road will be tougher for Indian women team.

Q- When will we find out who will be India’s opponent OQE?

Somewhere in late 2019, when all continental championships are done, and we have teams from World Series.

Right now, Indian team can just wait and watch how things unfold for the rest of the world and meanwhile gather ranking points to be in the best possible position for OQE.

Have any more questions?
Let us know in the comments section below and we will get you your answers.

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