The IHF has released more information concerning the new format for Olympic qualification. [link=http://www.ihf.info/MEDIA/16871,0.pdf]New Olympic Qualification Format[/link]
Under the old system, the host nation and 1 representative from each continent (Asia, Africa, Europe, and PAN-America) qualified for the Olympics. The remaining slots were determined by placement at the preceding World Championships. For the Men, the top 7 qualified and for the Women, the top 5 qualified. This gender inequity has now been removed and now both tournaments will have 12 slots.
Under the new system, the host nation and the 4 regions will continue to get 5 of the 12 slots. But only the preceding World Champion will also get a free ticket to Beijing. The remaining 6 slots will be awarded at 3 pre-olympic tournaments, with the 1st and 2nd place teams each punching a ticket for Beijing.
The news release provides some of the details concerning this tournament, but a quick analysis yields several questions that will need further clarification:
– Who gets to host the tournaments? (perhaps, the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place teams from the World Championships?)
– What’s the tournament format? (Round robin, with 3 games in 3 days?)
– How will the seeding be done for these tournaments? (The chart in the news release implies a potential structure, but I would argue that this structure needs to rethink how the 3rd and 4th rungs are set. As much as I’d like to think the rest of the world has caught up to Europe, that isn’t the reality yet. Any tournament with only 2 European teams would be seen as an easier path to qualify.)
– Will there be a draw to determine pool allocation? If so, will there be an attempt to balance the continents out like the World Cup draw for Soccer?
– If a Nation places 2nd through 7th at the World Championships, but then wins their Continental automatic bid what happens to their tournament placement? (Does, it go to the next lower placing team at the World Championships?)
– How is Continental Ranking determined at the World Championships for the 2 extra tournament places? (Average placement of the top 3 teams from each continent perhaps?)
– If Australia has to pre-qualify, how will this be done? (A home and away versus some other Nation for the last spot?)