CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - South Africa's men's and women's hockey teams have lost an appeal to the IOC against the decision by their own Olympic committee to exclude them from the 2016 Games, the country's hockey association said on Thursday.
The teams met the qualifying criteria for Rio by winning the African Championships but the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) wanted them to prove their worth by qualifying via the Hockey World League, which they failed to do.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) reviewed an appeal lodged by the International Hockey Federation on behalf of the South African Hockey Association but found in favour of SASCOC.
"It is with great sadness that we receive this news," the hockey association said in a statement on Thursday. "We accept and respect the final decision of the IOC. We will continue our efforts to lobby for the review of the general qualification criteria of SASCOC beyond the 2016 Olympic Games,” added chief executive officer Marissa Langeni.
The hockey association had previously said the decision would "cripple the sport" in the country. South Africa’s Olympic selection policy is not to take teams who qualify through continental competition but rather those who come through world qualifiers and have a real chance of medal success, like the men’s rugby sevens.
SASCOC said the decision is in line with their policy of "producing world-class athletes who will compete at the highest levels" although costs are also a factor. It has made an exception, however, for the men’s and women’s football teams which have also qualified for Rio after specific African qualifying competitions.
Editing by Ken Ferris