South Africans get hockey spot

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South Africa has been awarded the final qualifying place for the men’s field hockey competition at the Athens Olympics. The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) made the decision in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Wednesday after dismissing Greece’s claim that it deserved the place. «This decision means the world to the game of hockey in South Africa,» Charles Smith, president of the South African Hockey Association, told Reuters from Lausanne. The South African men’s field hockey team missed out on the 2000 Olympics in Sydney when the country’s National Olympic Committee declined to send a team. «It erases the bad memories of four years ago and will allow us to market the men’s game properly because we can now say there is a future for the sport and 2000 was just a temporary setback,» Smith added. Greece failed to qualify for the Olympics via the European Cup and also lost in a playoff against Canada which the International Hockey Federation (FIH) organized to give them one last chance at qualifying. The Hellenic Hockey Association then challenged the FIH ruling in Lausanne, arguing it should have been included after Cuba withdrew from a qualifier.

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