ZURICH – With Sochi in the rear-view mirror, the IIHF has released the Olympic qualification structure and dates for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, Korea.
The qualification structure for the Olympic men’s tournament will have an immediate impact on the upcoming IIHF World Championship, as the 2015 IIHF World Ranking will be used to seed the top eight automatic entries and the men’s qualification program.Click here to view the qualification structure and operating dates for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games men’s and women’s ice hockey qualification programs.
Click here for more information on the IIHF World Ranking and the recent positions from 2014.
The Olympic men’s tournament format will be the same as in Sochi, with four teams seeded into three groups. The top eight teams in the 2015 IIHF Men’s World Ranking – which is determined following the results of the 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship – will be automatically seeded 1-8 in the tournament. Korea currently holds the 12th seed as tournament host, leaving three qualification positions available.
The men’s Olympic qualification program will operate from November 2015 through to September 2016. Each of the qualification phases will be a four-team round-robin format, with a total of 12 teams split into three groups.
The qualification program begins 5 November 2015 with the Olympic Preliminary Qualification, available to teams seeded 27th to 36th. The three group winners qualify for the Olympic Pre-Qualification, which will take place 11-14 February 2016. There they will be seeded again into three different groups with the 18-26-seeded nations.
The three Pre-Qualification group winners will move on to the Final Qualification phase set for 1-4 September 2016.
On the women’s side, the 2016 IIHF Women’s World Ranking will be used to seed the women’s program. The top five-ranked teams following the 2016 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship will earn automatic entry into PyeongChang 2018.
As in Sochi a total of eight teams will be competing at the 2018 Olympics, seeded into two tiered groups. The top four teams will make up Group A, while the fifth-ranked team, tournament hosts Korea, and two qualifiers will form Group B. The four teams from Group A and the top two teams from Group B will advance to the playoff round. The top two teams of Group A get a bye to the semi-finals.
The women’s tournament qualification program will operate from August 2016 through to February 2017. The program will feature three qualification phases as with the men’s, but with two groups instead of three.
Teams seeded 18-24 will participate in the initial Preliminary Qualification tournament from 25-28 August 2016. The two winners from each group join the 12-17-seeded countries in the Pre-Qualification. The two Pre-Qualification winners then battle it out with the 6-11-seeded nations for the two final spots in Korea.
All locations for the Olympic Qualification tournaments will be announced at a later date.
Teams that wish to compete in the men’s qualification program must submit an entry form in April 2015. The Team Entry Forms for participation in the women’s qualification tournaments will be distributed in the early spring of 2016.