Race to Olympics for women starts soon
by Martin Merk|14 FEB 2020
Japan and the Czech Republic are among the teams battling for sixth place in the 2020 IIHF Women’s World Ranking and a direct entry to the 2020 Olympic Winter Games.
photo: Andre Ringuette / HHOF-IIHF Images
The picture for Beijing 2022 will clear up this spring, as the automatically-qualified countries are confirmed for the women's tournament. 

The seedings for the teams will be based on the 2020 IIHF Women’s World Ranking, which will be updated after the conclusion of the 2020 IIHF Ice Hockey Women's World Championships. The countries that will take part in the Qualification phase will also be confirmed. 

This ranking will include the results of the IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship program between 2017 and 2020 as well as the 2018 Olympic Winter Games (and Qualification) with more points being awarded on a sliding scale that favours a team’s performance in more recent tournaments. Click here for the current rankings and an explanation. On the men’s side the Olympic Qualification has already started and will end in late August with the Final Olympic Qualification.

For four of the five events in the ranking, the points are already given and published in the 2020 IIHF Women’s World Ranking Pre-Championship report (see below) with only the points from the 2020 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship program still to be added to get the final ranking.

This year the ranking matters more than ever, as it will determine which teams will earn an automatic qualification for Beijing 2022. For the first time the women’s ice hockey tournament will include ten teams, same as in the Women’s Worlds since last year. The top-6 countries of the 2020 IIHF Women’s World Ranking and China as the host will get direct entry. The last three spots will then be decided in the Olympic Qualification tournaments.

Who will make it? Considering the discrepancies in points, the very top teams like USA, Canada and Finland are virtually locked in the top-6 with the points they have and the ones they can earn at the Women’s Worlds in Halifax and Truro, Canada (31 March to 10 April 2020).

Russia and Switzerland in fourth and fifth place also have a comfortable gap. They would need a bad season and major upsets from the teams ranked below in order to miss out on a top-6 placement in the next Women’s World Ranking.

That leaves the four teams ranked between 6th and 9th place and sitting very close together in points: Japan, the Czech Republic, Germany and Sweden. The Swedes are out of the race for a top-6 spot since they were surprisingly relegated last year and will compete among the teams seeded 11-16 in the 2020 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship Division I Group A in Angers, France.

That means Japan, the Czech Republic and Germany are set for a battle to finish ahead of each other for the best placing in the Women’s Worlds and to get enough points to move to sixth place (or better) in the Women’s World Ranking. Currently Japan has the advantage with 2030 points before the Czechs (2010) and Germans (2000). In the two-tiered preliminary round of the Women’s Worlds all three teams are seeded in the “lower” Group B where they will battle for the best-possible position and one of the three quarter-final spots for the group – with the ambition to advance further from there.

But even if your team won’t make it to the top-6, the ranking points will matter as the Women’s World Ranking determines the structure of the Olympic Qualification.

The Final Olympic Qualification for the 2022 Olympics will be played in three groups and the teams in position 7-9 will have the right to host their group. If any of the afore-mentioned teams won’t make it, they will likely be able to battle for their ticket to Beijing 2022 on home ice. And Sweden, currently 9th, will hope to keep this position thanks to the gap in points to the teams ranked behind – unless Denmark or Hungary score major upsets in the Women’s Worlds to overtake the Swedes.

The structure, number of groups and tournaments in the Olympic Qualification will depend on the number of entered women’s teams for the 2022 Olympics. While the upper part of the 2020 IIHF Women’s World Ranking will be known in April, the groups, dates and hosts of the Olympic Qualification will be determined one month later at the 2020 IIHF Annual Congress in Zurich.

2020 IIHF Women’s World Ranking Pre-Championship Report

Rank Team Points
1 USA 2400
2 Canada 2290
3 Finland 2270
4 Russia 2190
5 Switzerland 2110
6 Japan 2030
7 Czech Republic 2010
8 Germany 2000
9 Sweden 2000
10 France 1860
11 Denmark 1790
12 Hungary 1780
13 Norway 1780
14 Austria 1780
15 Korea 1675
16 Slovakia 1670
17 Italy 1645
18 Latvia 1515
19 China 1510
20 Kazakhstan 1505
21 Netherlands 1495
22 Poland 1475
23 Great Britain 1345
24 Slovenia 1300
25 Spain 1265
26 Mexico 1245
27 Turkey 1065
28 DPR Korea 955
29 Australia 920
30 Hong Kong 885
31 Chinese Taipei 830
32 New Zealand 815
33 Iceland 805
34 Romania 720
35 Belgium 660
36 South Africa 630
37 Croatia 600
38 Bulgaria 575
39 Ukraine 330
40 Lithuania 0