Today marks the beginning of the Women’s Water Polo Olympic Games Qualification Tournament in Trieste, Italy.
After originally scheduled to take place in March 2020, the tournament was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic and now takes place this month from 19‑24th of January.
The stakes are high; in this six‑day sporting event, eight teams will face each other to secure their place at the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games.
The eight teams were divided into two groups.
Group A: Netherlands, France, Italy, Slovakia
Group B: Greece, Hungary, Israel, Kazakhstan
The finalists will join USA, Spain, Russian Federation, Australia, Canada, South Africa, People’s Republic of China and Japan, who have already qualified.
2020 Tokyo Olympic Games’ official website has described the upcoming competition as “fierce”, as Rio 2016 silver medallist Italy and the 2020 European Championship bronze medallist Hungary, who has made it to the semi‑finals for the last three Olympic Games, are both looking to return to the Olympic stage.
On the other hand, Netherlands (Beijing 2008 champions), Greece and Kazakhstan are hoping to qualify as they failed to do so for the past few Games.
This tournament also present a chance for Slovakia, France and Israel to make their Olympic debut at Tokyo 2021.
Uzbekistan and New Zealand, who were also set to play, have decided to withdraw from the competition later last year due to Covid‑19.
New Zealand Water Polo stated in October:
“The welfare, health and safety and wellbeing of our athletes is the primary concern.”
“The Board takes this responsibility very seriously with the athlete at the centre of our thinking and decision-making process.”
Feature image: total‑waterpolo.com