The possibility remains for Canada to send an unprecedented number of teams to the Olympics in Paris.

Movie DetailerSports The possibility remains for Canada to send an unprecedented number of teams to the Olympics in Paris.

Both of Canada’s national field hockey teams were eliminated from contention for the Paris Olympics today. A 5-1 loss to Spain by the women and the men’s 3-2 defeat to Chile helped ensure that neither team will advance past the group stage at their last-chance qualifying tournaments.

The outcome wasn’t all that surprising, given that Canada has never won an Olympic medal in field hockey. But the men were trying for their third consecutive Olympic appearance, while the women were seeking their first trip since 1992.

What is a “team sport” exactly? There’s no firm definition. But, as a U.S. Supreme Court justice once said of obscenity, I know it when I see it. We’re talking about sports like soccer, basketball, volleyball, water polo, etc. So please don’t write in to complain that I left out, say, the equestrian team or the men’s 4x100m sprint team. Those, and others, don’t quite meet the (admittedly mushy) criteria.

With that said, here’s a look at which Canadian squads have already qualified for one of the team-sport events in Paris, and who still has a chance to make it.

  • Women’s soccer: The reigning Olympic champions were in danger of missing out before beating a tough Jamaica team in a two-game playoff in September.
  • Women’s rugby sevens: After falling from bronze medallists in Rio to ninth place in Tokyo, Canada earned its third straight trip to the Olympics by winning a regional qualifying tournament in Langford, B.C., last August.
  • Men’s volleyball: Canada clinched its third consecutive Olympic appearance by placing second in an eight-team global qualifier in China back in the fall.
  • Men’s basketball: NBA MVP contender Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led the Canadian men to their first Olympic berth since 2000 at last summer’s Basketball World Cup, where Canada beat the U.S. for a historic bronze medal.
  • Women’s basketball: Canada has an excellent chance of reaching the Olympics for the fourth consecutive time. The world’s fifth-ranked team just needs to finish in the top three of a four-team tournament that also includes No. 4 Spain, No. 9 Japan and No. 19 host Hungary. It takes place Feb. 8-11, and it’s the last chance for Canada to qualify.
  • Women’s and men’s 3-on-3 basketball: Canada is also fifth in the women’s rankings for this halfcourt version of the sport, which made its Olympic debut three years ago in Tokyo. Featuring twin sisters Katherine and Michelle Plouffe and Page Crozon, Canada has two chances left to reach Paris via global qualifiers. The first comes May 3-5 in Japan, where only the winner of the eight-team tournament gets an Olympic spot. If that doesn’t work out, Canada must finish in the top three of the final, 16-team women’s qualifier in late May in Hungary. On the men’s side, Canada is ranked 14th but still has a chance to get into the Olympics via the final qualifier.
  • Women’s volleyball: The team came close to clinching Canada’s first Olympic women’s volleyball berth in almost three decades at its global qualifying tournament in China in September. Needing to place in the top two in the round-robin event, Canada (5-2) finished with the same record as second-place Serbia but lost out on the Olympic spot by a tiebreaker. The team can still get into the Olympics based on its world ranking this June, but it’ll be tight. Five spots are available and Canada (ranked 11th overall) is currently the fifth-highest team not already qualified.
  • Men’s rugby sevens: After losing in the quarter-finals in Tokyo, Canada must win a global 12-team tournament in June in Morocco to grab the last remaining spot in Paris.
  • Women’s water polo: Following their quarter-final exit in Tokyo, the Canadian women will try to grab one of the two Olympic spots up for grabs at next month’s World Aquatics Championships in Doha. Sixteen teams are competing in the tournament, which opens Feb. 4.


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