The International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board has on Wednesday at its meeting in Lausanne approved a request to increase the number of teams participating in the 2022 Olympic Women’s Ice Hockey Tournament from previously eight to now ten teams.
“The IIHF is extremely happy and satisfied with the decision of the IOC Executive Board to increase the number of women’s ice hockey teams. It is something we have discussed for a long time and we are glad it will become reality for Beijing 2022. I want to thank the IOC and the organizer, BOCOG, to make this possible. This is one of the biggest milestones for women’s ice hockey since its inclusion into the Olympic Winter Games in Nagano 1998 and for all the female players who dream about competing at the Olympics. It also reflects the improvement and growth of women’s ice hockey, the increasing parity as well as the discussions we have had about gender equality,” said IIHF President René Fasel.
Kit McConnell, Sports Director of the IOC said: “We are delighted that the IOC Executive Board has today decided to include two additional women’s ice hockey teams, representing a big step forward towards gender balance in ice hockey and reflecting the innovations introduced by the IIHF last year for their own World Championship. This move is in line with the IOC’s Gender Equality recommendations, which were approved in February 2018 and which target 50 per cent gender equality in the Olympic Winter Games by 2026. Building on a great ice hockey tournament in PyeongChang 2018, we are looking forward to even more action on the ice in 2022.”
The request to the IOC Executive Board was formally made by the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) and supported by the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad (BOCOG). One year ago the 2017 IIHF Annual Congress already increased the number of teams for the IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship from eight to ten teams. Including the lower divisions and the IIHF Ice Hockey Challenge Cup of Asia, more than 50 countries will compete in IIHF women’s ice hockey events next season – double the number than 15 years ago.
“We at the IIHF Women’s Committee are very happy that the IOC is on the same page with us and understood why it is important to increase the number of women’s teams at the Olympic Winter Games,” said Zsuzsanna Kolbenheyer, IIHF Council member and Chairwoman of the IIHF Women’s Committee. “As we could see at the last two Olympics, female ice hockey is growing every year and this not only at the top level but also in the other countries. The IIHF Member National Associations are spending more and more time and money to develop women’s ice hockey as well. We are looking forward to the first IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship with ten teams in 2019 in Finland and we hope to see a very competitive tournament.”
The top-level IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship was played with either eight or nine teams between 1990 and 2017. Women’s ice hockey was included into the Olympic Winter Games with six teams in Nagano 1998. Eight teams competed in the following editions in Salt Lake City 2002, Turin 2006, Vancouver 2010, Sochi 2014 and PyeongChang 2018. The United States won the first and the most recent edition while Canada won gold in the other four tournaments. Sweden, Finland and Switzerland are the other medallists in Olympic women’s ice hockey history while Russia also won medals in the Women’s World Championships. China’s best placing was a fourth-place finish in the inaugural Olympic Women’s Ice Hockey Tournament in 1998.
The 2019 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship in Espoo, Finland, will be the first top-level women’s ice hockey tournament with ten teams. The United States, Canada, Finland, Russia, Switzerland, Sweden, Japan, Germany, the Czech Republic and France have qualified for the event and will play for the world title between 4th and 14th April 2019.
Ice hockey at the 2022 Olympic Winter Games will be played with 12 men’s teams as until now and 10 women’s teams. The 2018 IIHF Annual Congress recently approved that host country China will get automatic entry into both tournaments. The other teams will be determined at a later stage by the IIHF World Rankings and Olympic Qualification tournaments with details to be announced at a later stage.