Ivory Coast and the Democratic Republic of Congo have made the first cut in the qualification race from Africa for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
The two countries which won regional events in Africa will face strong opposition in the next and final round, the 2019 Africa Men’s Sevens tournament, which will decide the solitary berth given to Africa at the 12-team Olympics.
The 12 best African teams, along with Ivory Coast and the Democratic Republic of Congo, will compete for the African Sevens Champions title which this year will have the added flavour of being an Olympic qualification tournament.
Ivory Coast emerged champions at the 2018 Africa Regional Sevens – West, held last September in Abidjan. They beat Nigeria 22-17 in the final of the eight-team competition. The Democratic Republic of Congo finished top of four teams at the 2018 Africa Regional Sevens – Centre, also staged last September in Burundi.
If South Africa and Kenya – the two African nations competing in the World Sevens Series – finish in the top four in the 2018-2019 competition, they will automatically qualify for the 2020 Olympics. If they don’t, they will then play in the Africa Men’s Sevens tournament to earn their right to win the solitary automatic ticket for Africa.
The runner-up and the third-best placed team at this competition will have another chance, entering the 12-team world repechage event to decide one last Olympic qualifier.
At last year’s Africa Men’s Sevens tournament, Zimbabwe emerged champions defeating Kenya 17-5 in the final. Uganda finished third. By virtue of these performances, Zimbabwe and Uganda won a ticket to take part at the Hong Kong Sevens in April – Kenya are already part of the World Series – where they will battle it out with other Continental teams to earn the right to play in next season’s World Sevens Series.
Photo: Rugby Afrique