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Goals in sight as China laces up its skates

By SUN XIAOCHEN | China Daily | Updated: 2018-07-30 07:14

Huge potential

China's aim to popularize ice hockey using Olympic exposure received a major boost in May after the International Ice Hockey Federation voted to allow the host squads to enter the 2022 Winter Olympics automatically.

This means China will not have to go through the challenging qualification process to send its world-ranked No 18 women's and No 37 men's national squads to the Olympic tournaments in 2022.

Traditionally, teams from host countries have to finish in the top eight in the IIHF World Championships' top division the year before the Olympics are held to secure places at the Games.

China's commitment to develop the sport in the buildup to the 2022 Games and beyond was crucial to winning approval for direct entry from the world governing body, said Thomas Wu, an IIHF vice-president.

"The IIHF's goal is to promote the sport globally and China has huge potential in the game," he said. "We will enjoy seeing the Chinese teams at the 2022 tournament, but we also have to make sure the world-class quality of the Olympic competition won't be compromised, which is always the priority."

Urged by President Xi to not just host the 2022 Games successfully but to excel, the winter sports center has set goals for its women's team to win a medal and for the men's squad to perform well in front of home crowds.

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