The Hungarian men’s ice hockey team will have to successfully complete two qualifying rounds in order to participate in the 2026 Winter Olympics in Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo.
The IIHF finalized the qualifying schedule on Tuesday. This indicates that the first round has been cancelled, while a team from three groups – Iceland, the Netherlands and Serbia – will qualify in the second round in mid-December. Among them, the weakest in the world rankings will be in the quartet with Hungary interested in the third round, whose matches will be played in Szeksevsehirvar, according to FIFA.
In addition to the team from the second round, the Hungarians will face the Lithuanians and the Japanese from February 8 to 11. Also in this stage, the matches are held in three groups, and the top three qualify for the final round, where Slovakia, Belarus and Kazakhstan are in the fourth group, Latvia, France and Austria are in the fifth group, and Denmark, Norway and Kazakhstan. Slovenia is in Group F, it’s there. The matches in this round will be held at the end of August and the beginning of September 2024, and the winners can join the Olympic field.
At the Games, Group A was completed with hosts Canada, Sweden, Switzerland and Italy. Finland, Germany and the Czech Republic have one place for rent in Zone B, while there are two empty places in Zone C, where Russia and the United States are currently listed. Meanwhile, FIFA notes that the classification and promotion order may change if Russia and Belarus are unable to participate in the Games.
The last time the Hungarian national team participated was in 1964, in the Innsbruck Olympics.
The Hungarian national team played in the seventh round of the World Ice Hockey Championship before the start of the match between Hungary and Austria in Tampere, Finland, on May 22, 2023. (MTI/Tibor Elis)