|While the Sydney Olympic Games are still more than three years away, preparations for the hockey competition -- already well underway -- are beginning to intensify.||??||
With the confirmation by the International Olympic Committee that the women's competition has been expanded to 10 teams, the tournament will now be a two-pool competition -- two round robin pools of five -- rather than one pool of eight as in Atlanta. The men's tournament structure should remain the same as in Atlanta with two pools of six teams each.
Matches for all 22 competing teams will be played on one pitch at the hockey venue at Homebush. According to the Sydney Olympic News, a SOCOG update, construction of the hockey stadium is expected to begin in six months and be completed in March 1998 with the synthetic surface being laid in the summer of 1998-99. It will have a seating capacity of 15,000. A practice ground seating 4,000 is already in use.
SOCOG has made an initial proposal to the FIH for a test event to take place in late 1999. It would serve to test the competition venue, Games technology and to train technical officials and volunteers. The proposal is currently being examined.
Meanwhile, on a marketing note, SOCOG has released the design for the Sydney 2000 Hockey Coin which features an attacking female player emerging from a blaze of flames. It will be produced byt he Royal Australian Mint and is due to be issued in September of this year.