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Greece's plea for Olympic hockey berth rejected
May 20, 2004 15:50 IST
Ending days of suspense, the International Hockey Federation confirmed the participation of South Africa's men's hockey team in the Athens Olympics after the Court of Arbitration for Sport turned down Greece's appeal to be allowed an berth in the tournament as hosts.
South Africa thus becomes the 12th and final team to qualify for the mega event.
The FIH's decision comes almost three months after the Hellenic Hockey Federation of Greece moved the CAS in February claiming a berth in the Olympics on grounds that they are the host country.
"The Panel understands the Olympic Qualification Criteria as allowing the FIH to maintain its qualification decision," CAS said in a letter to the FIH.
"The Panel notes that this leads to the exceptional situation that the host country in a team event cannot participate in the Olympic Games."
The hosts had failed to win a berth in the mega event despite being given two chances by the FIH.
The first option for Greece to gain a place at the Olympics was by qualifying for the European Nations Cup, held last year.
Greece did not qualify for this tournament but there was a second opportunity for the country, which required Greece to beat Canada, the lowest ranked in the Olympic qualifier, in a best of three play-off competition.
Greece participated under protest but lost the series 2-0.