Proper Paris Olympics preparations means no African Games for SA hockey

South Africa's Marizen Marais (L) celebrates with teammates after scoring against India during their women's pool A match of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games field hockey competition, at the Oi Hockey Stadium in Tokyo

The South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) announced the decision, with the main goal of peaking at the Paris Olympics forcing the move. Seen here: South Africa's Marizen Marais (L) celebrates with teammates. Picture: Martin Bureau/AFP

Published Mar 20, 2024


With one eye on the Paris Olympics, the SA men’s and women’s hockey teams this week were forced to withdraw from the African Games in Accra, Ghana, with poor playing surfaces in the host country as the reason for the decision.

The South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) announced the decision, after it was determined the playing surface in Accra could be a hazard to players.

The Local Organising Committee (LOC) had previously offered guarantees that the pitches would adhere to international standards, but that was found to not be the case in Sascoc’s evaluation.

The SA teams have also qualified for the Paris Olympics later this year, which meant the risk of injury to players would have been a major factor in the decision.

‘May cause harm to the athletes’

“Over and above making this decision, our SA Hockey Federation consulted with Sports Flooring Warehouse, a South African-based specialist in carpet laying, and an FIH recognised service provider. They have also advised us – having analysed the images we shared with them – that the field is not satisfactory, and may cause harm to the athletes,” said LOC, Team SA team leader Patience Shikwambana.

“The rescheduling of the hockey competition, on three numerous occasions has, in addition, caused an inconvenience to us logistically, as a team, where we had to arrange for both the teams to fly to Ghana in time for the commencement of the competition.

“In the first Chef De Missions’ site visit meeting at the end of October 2023, we were advised that there would be test events to ensure the readiness of venues before the start of each competition. This, unfortunately, has not been the case for Hockey.”

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