It's qualifying season for the 2020 Olympics — here's how Canadian teams can get in
6 squads already have tickets to Tokyo and others are positioned to join them
Canada will be well represented in the various team sports at the Olympics this summer. Six Canadian squads have qualified so far: men's and women's rugby sevens, men's volleyball, men's field hockey, women's water polo and women's softball.
That's already more team-sport entries than Canada had at the last Summer Olympics. And seven more have a chance to join them. Here's a quick look at who they are and what they need to do to get to Tokyo:
The bronze medallists from the previous two Olympics must survive their regional qualifying tournament, which opens Jan. 28 in the southern United States. Eight countries will be there, including the World Cup champion U.S. They're divided into two groups with the top two teams from each advancing to the semifinals. The winners of those semifinal matches get spots in the Olympics. Everyone else is out.
The other teams in Canada's group are Mexico, Jamaica, and St. Kitts and Nevis. Finishing first in the group is key because it should ensure you avoid playing the U.S. in the semis.
Canada's regional qualifier starts March 20 in Mexico. The format is the exact same as the women's. Canada is in a group with Honduras, El Salvador and Haiti.
If it advances, it will likely have to beat either the U.S. or Mexico in the semis for a spot in the Olympics. That'll be a challenge for a Canadian team that hasn't qualified for the Olympics since 1984.
After swinging and missing at the Premier 12 tournament back in November, Canada is down to its final two strikes. First on deck is the Americas qualifier in Arizona starting March 22. Only the winner gets a ticket to Tokyo. That'll be tough with strong baseball countries like Cuba, the Dominican and the U.S. among the eight teams competing.
But the second- and third-place finishers will earn one last shot at the final six-team Olympic qualifier. That tournament starts April 1 in Taiwan.
Men's water polo
An Olympic spot was up for grabs at the Pan Am Games last summer but Canada just missed out on it by losing to the U.S. in the gold-medal match. There's one more chance at the world qualifier in the Netherlands starting March 29. Four Olympic spots are available there. The Canadian men last made it in 2008.
Men's 3-on-3 basketball
Canada's last chance will come at a world qualifier in March in India. Twenty teams are competing, and they're divided into four groups. The top two teams in each group advance to the quarter-finals. From there, it's single-knockout. The top three teams at the end (so both finalists and the winners of the third-place game) go to Tokyo. The other teams in Canada's group are the Netherlands, Latvia, Croatia and India. There's an identical women's 3-on-3 qualifier happening in the same place at the same time, but Canada doesn't have a team in it and won't have one in Tokyo.
This should be a slam dunk. Two spots are up for grabs at Canada's four-team, round-robin qualifying tournament starting Feb. 6 in Belgium. All Canada has to do is finish ahead of either Sweden or Belgium and it's in the Olympics. Japan will also be there, but it doesn't matter because it's already guaranteed an Olympic spot as the host country. Canada is ranked fourth in the world and finished seventh at the last Olympics. Belgium is ninth. Sweden is 22nd.
The most anticipated Olympic qualifying tournament comes last. Starting June 23, Canada's men's basketball team — stocked (hopefully) with NBA players — plays its last-minute qualifier in Victoria. It's a six-team tournament and only the winner goes to the Olympics. Canada will have to get through reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, though his Greece team doesn't have any other NBA stars. Same for the other teams: Czech Republic, Turkey, China and Uruguay.
Canada is grouped with Greece and China for round-robin play. The top two teams from both groups cross over to play the semifinals, and the winners of those play for the Olympic spot
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