The South African Hockey Association has with regret received the news that the South African Hockey national teams will not be permitted to compete at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games as per the letter received from SASCOC today.
The SA National hockey teams both qualified earlier this month for the Olympic Games after being crowned the African champions at the Greenfields African Hockey Championships that took place in Randburg, Johannesburg.
Both teams having met the qualification criteria as set out by the International Hockey Federation and the International Olympic Committee had not met SASCOC’s preferred qualification route.
SASCOC had taken a hard line with SA Hockey and insisted that the national hockey team qualify via the Hockey World League Round 3 event and would not consider the additional option available to the team of qualifying via the continental competition.
In all discussions SA Hockey continuously presented the argument that the criteria proposed was unachievable due to a number of factors, and that the criteria in fact would be an automatic exclusion of the two national hockey teams should the criteria remain.
The final set criteria presented for signatory remained unchanged in spite of the contestations made by SA Hockey and remained non-negotiable. SA Hockey signed this agreement as a ‘fait accompli’.
It remains our view that whether we signed the agreement or not the terms remained in force as the National Olympic Committee of every country has the final say when entering athletes for the Olympic Games.
We note the growing impatience and frustration amongst the hockey community around why the qualification criteria discussion took place so late and note that some of this timing was out of our hands.
We further acknowledge that up until the conclusion of the African Championships there was no qualification at all to speak of, as SA had not as yet met any elements of the FIH/IOC qualification criteria.
The decision taken by SASCOC is crippling and will have long lasting negative ramifications for the sport of hockey, the decision taken is by no measure in the interest of the sport.
We whole heartedly apologise to the hockey community for failing to ensure that the SA Hockey teams remain on SA’s Olympic campaign.
We would like to thank our athletes who have gone beyond the call of duty to represent South Africa, they have given their best in trying times, they have contributed financially, time and time again to represent our great nation, and they have taken many hours off work and their studies to fulfil their dreams and aspirations of representing South Africa.
We are proud of every effort made and every success gained over the years, it is because of these very sacrifices, that South Africa has remained in the top 15 nations in World Hockey.
In the interest of transparency to the hockey community we have decided to share a copy of the contents of a letter sent to SASCOC when requesting them to review the decision pertaining to hockey.
Please see below the arguments put to SASCOC for consideration at their 18 November Board Meeting.
In spite of the facts, SASCOC has opted to stick to the agreement that was signed, we have opted to “demystify’’ the said agreement.
SA Hockey will now explore any other possible avenues that may be available to us to further advance the possibility of entry for the Rio Olympic Games.