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Ready, Steady, Tokyo! Elite teams line up for hockey’s Olympic Test Event

August 8, 2019

The countdown to the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 has now entered its final year and the preparations for ‘the greatest show on earth’ are in full swing. 

As part of these efforts, a total of 56 test events have been scheduled in the build-up to the XXXII Olympiad, which takes place in and around Japan’s capital from Friday 24 July until Sunday 9 August 2020. Known collectively as the ‘Ready Steady Tokyo Test Events’, these dress rehearsals play a crucial role ensuring that venues and operational procedures are perfected ahead of the main event.

The Ready Steady Tokyo Hockey Test Event will be held at the brand-new Oi Hockey Stadium from Saturday 17 to Wednesday 21 August 2019, with eight – four men, four women – international teams set to take to the field. Host nation Japan and Asian giants India are represented in both competitions, with the men’s national teams of Malaysia and New Zealand and the women of Australia and China completing the respective line-ups at an event that will also witness a special stadium inauguration from Japan’s capital city.

In the men’s competition, India (FIH World Ranking: 5) are the highest ranked of the four competing nations and, according to defender and penalty corner ace Harmanpreet Singh, are travelling to Japan focussed on victory. “Malaysia, Japan and New Zealand are good teams to play against and see where we stand as a unit ahead of the Olympic Qualifiers”, said the 23-year-old who was recently named by head coach Graham Reid as captain for the event. “We are well-prepared, having attended a special goalkeepers camp and a defenders camp. We will be playing every match with the intent to win.”

Eighth-ranked New Zealand have named a strong, experienced squad for the event as they continue their preparations for the Oceania Cup, which takes place next month in Rockhampton, Australia. Blair Tarrant captains the side and is currently closing in on his 200th appearance for the Black Sticks, with masses of experience and talent coming from the likes of Shea McAleese, Stephen Jenness and Hugo Inglis. Star striker Simon Child has been provisionally named as part of head coach Darren Smith’s squad, and if selected will add even more attacking potency to this gifted group.

Malaysia sit 12th in the FIH World Rankings but have shown excellent form in recent weeks, as head coach Roelant Oltmans continues to work his renowned magic. Their tour of Europe has seen them defeat Germany, Spain and Ireland and also draw with England, results that suggest high confidence levels within the squad.

At 16th in the FIH World Rankings, host nation Japan are the lowest ranked nation competing in the test event. However, the Samurais' stunning, against the odds, title victory at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia ensures that they cannot be under-estimated. 

With an FIH World Ranking of two, Australia will be seen by many as the clear favourites to triumph in the women’s Test Event. A silver medal in the inaugural FIH Pro League competition, defeated in a shoot-out by the Netherlands in the competition final, gives a good indication that they are building nicely with Tokyo 2020 now less than 12 months away. Like New Zealand men, Australia enter the Test Event with one eye on their upcoming Oceania Cup challenge on home soil in Rockhampton, where that all-important ticket to Tokyo 2020 is on the line. “This event gives us a chance to get a gauge on what it will be like at the Olympics in the hot and humid environment over there,” said head coach Paul Gaudoin. “It also allows us to work on some of our combinations in the lead up to the Oceania Cup and experience a little bit of what we hope to expect at this time next year.”

Australia’s opponents at the Ready Steady Tokyo Hockey Test Event are certainly not attending simply to make up the numbers, with all three nations looking to hit form for differing reasons. India (WR:10) and China (WR:11) both missed out on the chance of direct qualification for Tokyo 2020 by failing to take the title at last year’s 2018 Asian Games, where Japan (WR14) emerged triumphant after defeating India in the event final in Jakarta. Both India and China could feature in the FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers later this year and know that strong performances at the upcoming test event in Tokyo could lay solid foundations in their respective bids to secure an Olympic ticket. For Japan, it is all about continuing their progression. Their stunning victory at the 2018 Asian Games ended any discussion about whether or not they would compete in Tokyo based on merit. Now it is all about how much they can achieve at the Oi Hockey Stadium, a legacy venue that they will be proud to call home during the Olympic Games and for many years to come. 

The match schedules as well as the list of officials, including the umpires, appointed by FIH for this event are available here (Men’s) and here (Women’s). To find more information about the “Ready Steady Tokyo” campaign for the Test Event, please click here

The FIH delegation for the Ready Steady Tokyo Hockey Test Event will include FIH President and IOC Member Dr. Narinder Dhruv Batra, FIH CEO Thierry Weil, FIH Executive Board (EB) Member and AHF (Asian Hockey Federation) President Fumio Ogura as well as FIH EB Member, IOC Commission Member and AHF CEO Tayyab Ikram.

The Games of the XXXII Olympiad will be officially opened on 24 July 2020, with the Olympic hockey events getting underway 24 hours later in the Oi Hockey Stadium. Twenty-four nations – 12 men’s and 12 women’s teams – will battle it out to follow in the footsteps of the 2016 gold medalists, namely Argentina (men) and Great Britain (women).

Japan’s men and women will be joined at Tokyo 2020 by the winners of the four remaining continental championships, events which serve as direct qualifiers for the XXXII Olympiad. The next qualifiers for Tokyo 2020 will come from the currently ongoing Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, with the African, European and Oceania continental championships all taking place between now and September of this year.

The remaining seven places will be decided by the FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers scheduled to take place at the end of October and early November. These events consist of teams that qualified via the FIH Pro League and the FIH Series Finals, with the line-up being completed by the highest ranked teams who did not qualify via either route.

To find all information about next year’s Olympic Games, please consult the website of the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (TOCOG) here.

#ReadySteadyTokyo
#Tokyo2020
#RoadToTokyo

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