New Zealand, Spain hockey teams invited to 2016 Olympics

Lausanne, Dec 17 (IANS) The International Hockey Federation (FIH) on Thursday confirmed that Spain women’s team and New Zealand men’s team have been invited to participate in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games following the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee’s (Sascoc) decision to reject invitations for South Africa’s men’s and women’s hockey teams.

“This decision is in line with the official FIH qualification system for the Games of the XXXI Olympiad — Rio 2016, section F, which states that if an allocated quota place is declined by the NOC, the quota place will be reallocated to the next highest placed team from the Hockey World League (HWL) Semi-Finals not already qualified,” FIH said in a statement.

After South Africa men and women won the African Hockey Championships back in November, both teams were invited to participate in the Rio 2016 Olympics in line with the FIH qualification system. However, Sascoc decided to reject their invitations. It said that the teams should have qualified from international competitions, instead from the continental championships.

Following an appeal by the FIH on behalf of the South African Hockey Association to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the IOC Executive Board stated that, under the terms of the Olympic Charter, all parties must respect the integrity and authority of the National Olympic Committee (NOC) for representation of their respective countries and selection of their athletes and teams at the Olympic Games.

Consequently, invitation letters have now been sent to the respective NOCs inviting Spain women and New Zealand men to participate in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

To date, 11 men’s and 11 women’s teams have officially qualified through the FIH qualification system.

In the men’s Olympic hockey event, nations that have already qualified include Oceania champions Australia, Asian Games champions India, Argentina as Pan Am Games champions, the Netherlands as European champions and Germany, Belgium, Great Britain, Canada, Spain and Ireland through the HWL Semi-Finals.

Brazil men also confirmed their place at Rio 2016 after satisfying the host nation participation criteria established by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and FIH.

In the women’s Olympic hockey event, the following nations have qualified: Australia as Oceania champions, South Korea as Asian Games champions, the United States as Pan Am Games champions, Great Britain as European champions (qualification through England’s victory at the EuroHockey Championships 2015) and China, Germany, Argentina, the Netherlands, New Zealand, India and Japan through the HWL Semi-Finals.

Should both Spain and New Zealand accept their invitations, this will complete the 12 team line-ups for next year’s men’s and women’s Olympic hockey events.

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