Pakistan get two routes to reach Olympics

Abdul Mohi Shah
Wednesday, Feb 08, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan hockey team has got a golden opportunity to compete in the qualifying round of the 2024 Paris Olympics even if the Greenshirts fail to lift the Asian Games title in September/October 2023.

The top five Asian teams -- India, Korea, Malaysia, and Japan -- are eligible to compete in the qualifying round as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the International Hockey Federation (FIH) have announced a roadmap to make it to the 12-team competition.

Besides the host country (France), the winners of the five continental events -- African Hockey, Pan American Games, Asian Games, EuroHockey Championship, and Oceania Cup 2023 winners will make it to the semi-finals. All these competitions are scheduled to be held in 2023.

The rest of the six spots for the Paris Olympics men’s hockey will be filled by the qualifiers (three each from two qualifying competitions) to be held in March 203.

Should host country France also win the EuroHockey Championship 2023, the second-placed nation will not subsequently qualify, but the quota place will be allocated to the FIH Hockey Olympic Qualification tournaments.

There will be two FIH Hockey Olympic Qualification tournaments per gender, comprising 8 teams each (16 teams in total), held in early 2024. As announced last year, the number of teams from each continent participating in these tournaments is based on quotas determined according to the FIH World Rankings of 31 January 2023.

Pakistan are now ranked 16 in the world and eligible to compete in the qualifying round of Paris Olympics even if they fail to win the Asian Games. India, Korea, Malaysia, and defending champions Japan will pose a tough challenge for Pakistan in their quest to win the Asian Games to directly qualify for the Paris Olympics. Pakistan have missed the last two Olympics 2016 in Rio and 2021 (2020 Olympics) in Tokyo.

According to the given format, the top five Asian teams, seven from Europe, two from Pan America, and one each from Africa and Oceania can compete in the qualifying rounds.

The top three teams in each Olympic qualification tournament will qualify for Paris 2024.

Meanwhile, the FIH is expected to open bids to host the qualifying rounds in a couple of weeks' time.

12 teams per gender will play at the Paris Olympics hockey tournaments, with each squad consisting of 16 athletes.