By Martin Merk – IIHF.com
The 2019 IIHF Annual Congress approved the qualification criteria for the 2022 Olympic Winter Games men’s ice hockey tournament in Beijing.
Like for 2018, the top-8 countries of the 2019 IIHF Men’s World Ranking will be automatically qualified together with host China. These are: Canada, Russia, Sweden, Finland, Czech Republic, USA, Germany and Switzerland. In 2022 the same format will be used for the 12-team tournament with three groups consisting of four teams each. The seeding will be made next year according to the 2020 IIHF Men’s World Ranking.
The qualified teams and the Olympic Qualification for the 10-team 2022 Olympic women’s ice hockey tournament will be determined in a year and based on the 2020 IIHF Women’s World Ranking that will be established following the 2020 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship in Canada.
In total a record number of 46 countries who applied to enter a men’s team for the Olympics are eligible to participate in the qualification process, meaning 37 countries will battle it out for the three remaining spots in the 2022 Olympic men’s ice hockey tournament.
The Olympic Qualification will be held in four stages starting in November 2019 with tournaments in Luxembourg and Hong Kong. The tournament winner of each group will advance to the next rounds until the Final Olympic Qualification as the fourth and last stage, which will be held 27 to 30 August 2020 keeping the possibility open for NHL players to join their countries.
The hosts of the 11 qualification tournaments were determined according to the seeding based on the 2019 IIHF Men’s World Ranking, meaning the top-seeded team of each group had the right to host before it would be offered to the next teams in the seeding.
The Final Olympic Qualification will take place in the countries ranked 9th to 11th in the world who opted to make use of their home-ice advantage.
Slovakia will host Group D at a venue to be determined with Belarus, Austria and the third-seeded qualifier.
Latvia will host Group E with France, Italy and the second-best seeded qualifier at Arena Riga, the venue built for the 2006 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship that will become a World Championship venue again in 2021.
Group F with Norway, Denmark, Korea and the top-seeded qualifier will take place in a Norwegian city to be named.
The third round will be hosted next February in Jesenice (Slovenia), Nur-Sultan (Kazakhstan) and Nottingham (Great Britain).
Groups & Qualification Men
For the 2022 Olympic men’s ice hockey tournament the top-8 nations of the 2019 IIHF Men’s World Ranking will be automatically qualified and together with host China and the three qualifiers be seeded according to the 2020 IIHF Men’s World Ranking. The three qualifiers will be determined in four stages of the Olympic Qualification starting in the 2019/2020 season according to the schematic below.
The 2022 Olympic men’s ice hockey tournament will be played according to the same format used in PyeongChang 2018, Sochi 2014 and Vancouver 2010 with three groups of four teams each. The best four teams from an overall 12-team ranking – the group winners and the second-ranked team with the best record – will advance to the quarter-finals while the other teams will play a qualification playoff game.
Olympic Winter Games, Men’s Ice Hockey Tournament
Groups to be determined in 2020. The tournament will include the top-8 nations according to the 2019 IIHF Men’s World Ranking (Canada, Russia, Sweden, Finland, Czech Republic, USA, Germany, Switzerland), host China and three qualifiers.
Final Olympic Qualification (27-30 August 2020)
Group D: Slovakia, Belarus, Austria, Qualifier 6. In Slovakia (city TBA).
Group E: Latvia, France, Italy, Qualifier 5. In Riga, Latvia.
Group F: Norway, Denmark, Korea, Qualifier 4. In Norway (city TBA).
Olympic Pre-Qualification Round 3 (6-9 February 2020)
Group G: Slovenia, Japan, Lithuania, Qualifier 9. In Jesenice, Slovenia.
Group H: Kazakhstan, Poland, Ukraine, Qualifier 8. In Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan.
Group J: Great Britain, Hungary, Estonia, Qualifier 7. In Nottingham, Great Britain.
Olympic Pre-Qualification Round 2 (12-15 December 2019)
Group K: Romania, Iceland, Israel, Qualifier 11. In Brasov, Romania.
Group L: Netherlands, Spain, Mexico, Qualifier 10. In Spain (city TBA).
Group M: Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Turkey. In Croatia (city: TBA)
Olympic Pre-Qualification Round 1 (7-10 November 2019)
Group N: Luxembourg, United Arab Emirates, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Kyrgyzstan. In Luxembourg (city TBA).
Group O: Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, Kuwait, Thailand. In Hong Kong, Hong Kong.
Groups & Qualification Women
2022 Olympic women’s ice hockey tournament will for the first time be played with 10 teams. The qualification process will be determined at the Annual Congress in May 2020 and be based on the 2020 IIHF Women’s World Ranking.