A record number of 22 ice hockey teams will compete for Olympic medals at two of Beijing’s premier sports venues, showcasing the world’s fastest team sport to Chinese audiences on-site and sport fans worldwide.
Women’s hockey to kick off GamesAlready one day before the opening ceremony the Olympic women’s ice hockey tournament will begin with games at the Wukesong Sports Centre and the National Indoor Stadium.
The 14,614-seat Wukesong Sports Centre – used for basketball at the 2008 Olympics and best known to ice hockey fans as venue of the NHL China Games and of the KHL’s Kunlun Red Star – will serve as the primary venue for the women’s tournament that will include a record number of ten teams (up from eight) with a two-tiered format similar to the one used at the last two IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championships. A new Ice Sports Centre with additional ice sheets has been built next to it.
The top-6 teams – USA, Canada, Finland, ROC, Switzerland and Japan – as well as host China are automatically qualified. For China it will be the third Olympic women’s ice hockey tournament after having qualified for Nagano 1998 and Vancouver 2010.
12 teams remain in contention for the last open spots. The three remaining teams will be known soon as the Olympic Qualification process will end with the three tournaments from 11 to 14 November played in Chomutov (CZE), Fussen (GER) and Lulea (SWE).
Click here for the Olympic women’s ice hockey page.
Click here for the men’s and women’s Olympic Qualification overview.
NHLers return to OlympicsThe Olympic men’s ice hockey tournament will see the return of NHL players to Olympic ice.
Similar to the Olympic Winter Games between 1998 and 2014, the National Hockey League will pause its season for the tournament that will start on 9 February 2022. A provisional list with three NHL players from each team with NHL representation has been announced.
Most of the men’s ice hockey games will be held at the 18,826-seat National Indoor Stadium, which was constructed for the 2008 Olympics and sometimes nicknamed The Fan with the architecture resembling a traditional folding fan. In 2008 gymnastics, handball and trampolining events were held and last winter the venue got its ice sheet for the Winter Olympics. Both tournaments will be played on 60-on-26-metre ice sheets, which are more commonly used in North America.
The tournament will be played according to the same 12-team format as in the past Olympics and with the recently completed Final Olympic Qualification all teams are known. Canada, the United States, Germany and China are seeded in Group A; ROC, the Czech Republic, Switzerland and first-time participant Denmark will play in Group B; while Group C includes Finland, Sweden, Slovakia and Latvia.
Click here for the Olympic men’s ice hockey page.
Next step in preparationsThe preparations for the Olympic Winter Games in China are in full swing. For ice hockey, each venue includes a contingent of local and international staff with experience in ice making and maintenance. The venues have been transformed to accommodate the large number of teams and additional ice sheets have been built to serve as practice facilities.
The next big step for the Beijing Organising Committee for the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (BOCOG), its ice hockey staff and IIHF staff will be the test event held during from 8 to 13 November with local ice hockey teams playing in the two venues.
Two days ago the International Olympic Committee has published the Playbooks for teams and for other accredited participants with Covid-19 guidelines for a safe Olympic Winter Games that will help participants prepare for travelling to and arriving in China, fulfilling their roles at the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, and their departure from Beijing.
The 2022 Olympics are planned with local fans in attendance with more details on the ticket sale for residents of mainland China to be announced in the upcoming weeks.