China facing up to terrible treble

By Sun Xiaochen | China Daily | Updated: 2020-01-14 07:34
Team China basketball players struggle to come to terms with defeat to Venezuela at the FIBA World Cup on Sept 4, 2019 in Beijing. The loss left China with an almost impossible task of reaching this summer's Tokyo Olympics via a tough qualifying tournament. [Photo/Xinhua]

Defeats for volleyball and soccer squads leave nation poised to complete unwanted hat-trick in so-called 'big-ball' sports

China's quest to widen its international sporting prowess has hit a "big-ball" bump after defeats in volleyball and soccer left the nation facing up to an embarrassing triple whammy of Olympic qualification failures.

Just two weeks into the Olympic year, China's men's volleyball and soccer teams saw Tokyo tickets slip from their grasp at their respective 2020 Olympic qualifying tournaments, with the nation's men's basketball squad widely expected to follow suit at their qualifying event in June.

At the AFC Under-23 Championship in Thailand on Sunday, a 2-0 defeat to Uzbekistan ended China's hopes of booking a spot in the men's soccer tournament in Tokyo. Combined with an opening 1-0 loss to South Korea, the result means China cannot emerge from its group to reach the quarterfinals of the tournament, where only the top three finishers earn qualification for the Tokyo Games.

China has competed at the Olympics' soccer tournament twice-in 1988 in South Korea and in 2008 in Beijing.

About two hours earlier, China's men's volleyball team also missed out on the Games-for the first time since competing as host in 2008-by losing 3-0 to Iran in the final of the Asian zone qualifying event in Jiangmen, Guangdong province.

China's men's basketball team look set to complete a hat-trick of failures in June when it faces global heavyweights Canada, Greece and Turkey at a six-team qualifying tournament where just one Tokyo spot is up for grabs.

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