November 6, 2019 – The International Handball Federation has decided on the hosts for the Olympic Handball Qualifiers… and Croatia could be one of them.
Gol.hr reports that before the European Championships, which will be played in Austria, Norway, and Sweden from January 9 to 26, 2020, the International Handball Federation (IHF) has designated the hosts of the qualifying tournaments for the Olympic Games in Tokyo next year.
The tournaments will be played in the spring of next year, from April 17-19, and each of the two best teams will compete in the Tokyo Olympics.
France, Germany, and Norway were selected as hosts, while Croatia was named as the reserve country.
So, what exactly does this mean?
A total of 12 teams will compete in the Tokyo Olympics, four of which are already known: Japan automatically qualifies as the host, Denmark as world champion, Argentina as the winner of the Pan-American Games and Bahrain as the winner of the Asian Qualifying Tournament.
There are eight more spots open, and one of them will be known at the end of the upcoming European Championships. Namely, the best national team at the Euros, not counting Denmark, who has already qualified, will also secure their spot in Tokyo.
Thus, if Denmark takes the gold, then the European Championship finalist will book the spot for the Olympics. This is why it could be important for Croatia.
Namely, if one of the three teams designated to host the qualifying tournaments (France, Germany, Norway) wins the European Championship title (or loses to Denmark in the final), then the qualifying tournament will not be played in that country but in Croatia, which will step in as the first reserve.
Croatia has already hosted this qualifying tournament once, and namely, back in 2012 when the Cowboys locked their spot for the London Olympics in Varazdin, defeating the national teams of Iceland, Japan, and Chile.
This time, the competition will undoubtedly be much stronger, and it could only help Croatia if they were to secure their spot for Tokyo at one of the Croatian halls, in an atmosphere that would be excellent.
However, the best-case scenario, of course, would be if Croatia were to skip this qualifying tournament all together… though they’d have to become the European champion first.
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