The Cook Islands men’s and women’s 7s teams have a slim chance of qualifying for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
This after the teams lost a match each in the preliminary round of the Oceania 7s Championship, which serves as the 2020 Tokyo Games qualifier, in Fiji yesterday.
Cook Islands men’s side started their campaign well after beating Tuvalu 31-19 in their opening match. But the side went down 5-17 to Papua New Guinea in the second match.
The Walter Tangata-coached side will play Solomon Islands and Samoa in their remaining pool matches today.
In the women’s competition, the national side put on a brave fight against Samoa but lost the match 19-21. The team will play Papua New Guinea today before taking on Tonga in the final pool match.
One direct qualification spot is up for grabs in both the men’s and women’s competitions while the respective second and third-placed teams will advance to a last-chance global repechage competition in June.
Australia, Samoa and Tonga are the leading contenders among the 10 Olympic hopefuls in the men’s draw, with Fiji and New Zealand already qualified for Japan after securing a top four finish on last season’s World Sevens Series.
New Zealand and Australia have also confirmed their tickets to Tokyo in the women’s competition, leaving Fiji and Papua New Guinea as the front-runners among the eight teams in the women's qualifying competition.
Rugby sevens will make its second appearance on the Olympic Games programme in Tokyo following Fiji and Australia’s gold medal triumphs in Rio four years ago.
Oceania is the fifth region to host an Olympic qualification event for Tokyo 2020 after South and North America, Europe and Africa.
The Olympic qualifiers are being run alongside the annual Oceania Sevens Championship, where the Fiji men and Australian women are defending champions.
- Additional reporting from Oceania Rugby