The first eight countries to qualify fencing teams for the 2016 Olympic Games will be officially confirmed this Sunday, with the United States, France, Italy and Russia leading the charge to Rio.
Those countries make up the top four in the official FIE rankings for the men’s team foil, and have already accrued enough ranking points to progress to Brazil whatever happens at this weekend’s final World Cup stage in Bonn.
They will be joined by the top-ranked team from each of the four zones: Africa, Asia-Oceania, Europe and the Americas – and that race is still wide open.
All eyes will be on China, which could break into the top four outright with a good result in Germany. That would open up the zonal qualification spot in Asia-Oceania. Japan is currently the next highest team in that zone but could, in turn, be overtaken by South Korea.
Britain has no chance of threatening the top four overall but currently holds the European zonal spot. Its season-long tussle with Germany will come to a head in Bonn, where home advantage may be crucial for the host. That battle will be moot, however, if China secures a top-four place, thereby displacing a European nation – France, Italy or Russia. That European nation will then occupy the zonal berth for which Britain and Germany had been competing.
In the Americas, meanwhile, Canada and Brazil go toe-to-toe for the chance to compete in Rio. Egypt has comfortably qualified from the African zone so it is likely that Alaaeldin Abouelkassem will have the chance to improve upon the individual silver medal that he won at London 2012.
Qualification for the team event means automatic entry into the respective individual event in Rio. The fencers that missed out on qualification by the team route will have chance to qualify for the individual event at the Grand Prix in Havana, Cuba, March 11-13.
Elsewhere this weekend, fencers in the women’s team foil discipline will be competing in the penultimate Olympic qualifying event in Algiers, Algeria.
Women’s team foil is rotated off the Olympic program this year along with men’s team sabre, so female foilists wishing to compete in the individual event in Rio will focus on the Grand Prix in Shanghai on June 3-5.
The men’s team foil event is being held in the Hardtberghalle, Gaußstr.1, in Bonn, where a total of 214 foil fencers from 42 countries will compete. The women’s event, meanwhile, will see 129 fencers from 34 countries descend on the Hilton Hotel in Algiers. Both World Cup stages are Feb. 5-7.
An explanation of the qualifying procedure can be found here.