A petition handed to the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) will be passed on to the organisation’s board for consideration, as members of the SA hockey community lobby to have the national teams sent to next year’s Rio Olympics.
The online petition, signed by more than 13 000 people, called for Sascoc to overturn its decision not to allow athletes and teams in most sport codes to be selected for the Games based on continental criteria.
“The board will have to exercise their minds and look at which way they want to go in terms of whether they stick to the decision or change it,” Reddy said on Thursday.
“If they change it, they will need to consider the repercussions in terms of other sports that have already been turned down, like women’s rugby.”
Both the SA men’s and women’s hockey teams, ranked 15th and 11th in the world respectively, won the recent African Championships in Randburg and secured qualification for the multi-sport showpiece.
Sascoc, however, had signed a policy agreement with the SA Hockey Association (Saha) earlier this year confirming both squads would need to qualify through the World League tournaments in order to be selected. Neither side achieved the international criteria.
Sascoc issued a statement last month reiterating its policy and stating that neither team would compete in Rio.
“We would love the (Sascoc) board to see our point of view,” said Anita Machos, a school teacher and coach who was one of two people representing the hockey community at a low-key petition handover at Sascoc’s office in Joburg.
“We want them to give our players an opportunity to compete on the best platform the world has to offer
“They might not get further than the preliminary rounds, but give them the opportunity to try, and come back and inspire the next generation.”
According to Reddy, Sascoc had not yet received invitations for the hockey teams to compete in Rio, but they expected them from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) within the next few days.
The national body would be given two weeks to respond by accepting or declining the invites.
If Sascoc does not overturn its strict policy, which focusses on potential medallists, it will be the first time in 20 years that neither SA hockey team will compete at the quadrennial Games.