CAS to hold hearing
The Court of Arbitration for Sport will hold a hearing on March 19 to resolve the Asian Olympic handball qualifying dispute.
CAS secretary-general Matthieu Reeb said a binding ruling will then be given within days of the hearing, allowing Asian teams to take part in further qualifying matches in Europe from March 28. The Asian federation and the national associations of Kazakhstan and Kuwait have challenged a decision by the International Handball Federation, the sport's governing body, to order replays of qualifying matches for the Beijing Olympics following questionable referee decisions.
"I think we will go forward positively from this," IHF managing director Hala Helmy said of the hearing date. "We have three women's qualifying tournaments taking place at the same time (March 28-30) all over Europe. In each of the venues, four teams are taking part and two will go to the Olympics."
Asian men's teams will play in Olympic qualifying tournaments from May 30-June 1.
Referees from Jordan and Iran were brought in at the last minute by the Asian federation for the initial qualifiers in September. Their disputed calls helped Kuwait win the men's tournament and Kazakhstan the women's event. The Kuwait-based Asian federation has denied any match-fixing.
In December, the IHF ordered the tournaments be replayed in Tokyo. Only Japan and South Korea took part, and the South Koreans won both the men's and women's matches to secure Olympic spots. The Asian federation fined each nation $1,000 (euro657) for taking part.