Ice hockey’s governing physique on Tuesday lastly put to relaxation lingering questions on whether or not China’s woeful workforce can be allowed to play in the Olympic males’s hockey match, confirming lower than two months earlier than the Winter Games’ scheduled begin that the workforce would certainly compete in Beijing.
The International Ice Hockey Federation stated in a statement on Tuesday that its management, throughout a two-day meeting in Zurich, “confirmed that it would uphold the decision” from a number of years in the past to incorporate the Chinese workforce in the Olympic competitors. The verdict, after months of skepticism in regards to the workforce’s viability and questions from the ice hockey federation’s head in regards to the worth of getting it in the Olympic subject, permits China to sidestep a blow to its delight however may have little impact on the chase for medals in Beijing.
The Chinese workforce, which is ranked thirty second in the world, will meet Canada, Germany and the United States in group play, making it exceedingly unlikely that it’ll advance. But host nations usually benefit from the privilege of taking part in each sport, and China’s potential exclusion from one of the widespread occasions of the Winter Games had threatened to blemish the athletic résumé that the nation has been painstakingly constructing.
Although China has remodeled itself into an influence on the Summer Games — it completed second in the medal rely on the Tokyo Olympics this year — its proficiency in winter workforce sports activities is much less sterling. And no matter restricted ambitions China might need had in males’s hockey dimmed in September, when the N.H.L. stated it will permit its gamers to take part in Beijing, clearing the best way for China’s group-stage opponents to stock their rosters with a lot of the world’s most interesting expertise.
Tuesday’s announcement additionally extinguished any remaining prospects that Norway, ranked No. 11 in the world, would enter the match as China’s substitute.
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It may also, ultimately, finish months of waffling by hockey leaders, who stated in November that China would compete in the Olympics — after which nearly instantly signaled that the workforce’s standing was nonetheless tenuous.
Luc Tardif, the ice hockey governing physique’s new president, had repeatedly voiced issues about whether or not China would have the ability to maintain tempo with its opponents in Beijing.
“Watching a team being beaten, 15-0, is not good for anyone, not for China or for ice hockey,” Tardif told Agence France-Presse in September.
But Tardif appeared to again off in November, releasing an announcement that stated, “To be clear, the I.I.H.F. is not going to remove the Chinese team from the Olympic Games.” At the time, Tardif stated the federation would work alongside Chinese officers as “they work towards preparing their team.”
He additionally stated that “a joint effort to evaluate the status of the team’s preparations” would happen throughout two video games of Kunlun Red Star, a Chinese workforce in Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League stocked with lots of the gamers who had been anticipated to compete for China on the Games.
Kunlun Red Star lost the primary sport, 5-4, in additional time after which dropped the second, 4-1. By then, Tardif had began reviving worries in regards to the Chinese workforce’s prospects.
The federation didn’t element how, or why, it reached its conclusion this week that China can be allowed to compete, saying little greater than that officers had “discussed the status of the Chinese men’s ice hockey team.”
Much of China’s bother may be traced to its strict guidelines on twin nationality, which different nations use to bolster their groups in hockey and different sports activities. China’s refusal to acknowledge twin citizenship and its necessities for naturalized athletes born overseas to compete below its flag have lengthy restricted its skill to assemble rosters.
China’s girls’s hockey workforce additionally stays on track to compete in the Beijing Games. That workforce is ranked twentieth in the world.