Pathway to Paris 2024: Handball qualification system explained

As the host country and reigning Olympic champions, France will be one of the favourites for the Paris 2024 handball tournament. Both their men’s and women’s teams have confirmed spots at the Games, but with two years until the tournament begins how can their rivals qualify?

By Marta Martín
Picture by GETTY IMAGES

The Pierre Mauroy Stadium is the location where the French men’s and women’s teams attempt to defend their Olympic titles in front of a home crowd at Paris 2024.

As the host nation, France’s quotas are secured, however, the rest of the nations hoping to qualify will need to follow the pathway set out by the International Handball Federation (IHF). The process for qualification will be similar to Tokyo 2020, with the World Championships, Continental Championships and Olympic Qualification Tournaments all key to determining which teams will have the opportunity to attempt to dethrone France at their home Olympic Games. 

Find out the answers to the main questions about the handball qualification process for Paris 2024

How many teams will compete in handball in Paris 2024?

The women’s and men’s tournaments will have 12 teams each, resulting in 168 athletes per gender (14 per team).

What is the handball qualification pathway to Paris 2024?

As the host country, France are entitled to one quota for each of the men’s and women’s tournaments.

Added the that, the teams that win the gold medals at the World Championships will also secure their Olympic quota. Both of the men’s and women’s worlds take place in 2023, with the men’s in January and the women’s in December. If France win, the silver medallists will qualify for the Games. 

The Continental Qualification Events will see four teams per gender (one per region) qualify. The winners of their respective tournaments in Asia (including Oceania), Africa and Europe will qualify directly for Paris. In the Americas, the highest placed team in the Pan-American Championship, covering North American, the Caribbean and Central and South America, will qualify.

The 12 remaining quotas - six each for men and women - will be determined by the Olympic Qualification Tournaments, which are made up of three tournaments for men and three for women.

What is the Paris 2024 handball competition format and schedule?

While the format of Olympic handball will be similar to other editions of the Olympics, with a group phase followed by knock-out stages, it is worth noting that handball action will take place almost every day of the Games - and more. 

Despite the Games officially beginning with the Opening Ceremony on 26 July, handball matches will begin being played two days earlier. 

In fact, the only days there will be no handball taking place are 26 July, and 10 and 11 of August. 

The most important dates to look out for are 8 and 9 August when all the men’s and women’s medals will be decided.

READ MORE: The competition schedule for Olympic Games Paris 2024 has been released

Handball teams and athletes to watch at Paris 2024

Host country France are undoubtedly the teams to beat in both the men’s and women’s tournaments after their respective victories at Tokyo 2020. 

Nikola Karabatic is aiming to lead the men’s team to another gold medal - his fourth at the Olympics - while in the women’s team there are two standout players to keep an eye on: Grace Zaadi (named best centre back at Tokyo 2020) and Pauleta Foppa (part of the All-star teams at Tokyo 2020 and the last World Championship).

However, the path to glory is never easy and France will have strong competition at Paris 2024. 

Sweden, Spain and Denmark are all likely to challenge, with names such as Jim Gottfridsson, Alex Dujshebaev, Niklas Landin and Mikkel Hansen in their respective national teams.

On the women's side, Norway, with world-class players such as Stine Bredal, Katrine Lunde (the top scorer at Tokyo 2020) and Kari Brattset are predicted to be another one of the favourites at the next Summer Olympics.

Handball qualification timeline to Paris 2024

  • 4-20 November 2022: European Championship (women's European qualification event).
  • 12-29 January 2023: World Men's Handball Championship.
  • 2023: Women's Africa Qualification event. Date and location TBC.
  • 20 October-5 November 2023: Pan-American Games (men's and women's qualification event of the Continental Federations of North America and the Caribbean and South and Central America).
  • October 2023: Women's Asian Qualification Event (TBC when and where).
  • September-October 2023: Men's Asian Qualification Event (TBC when and where).
  • December 2023: World Women's Handball Championship.
  • 18-28 January 2024: Men's European Championships (men's European qualification event).
  • January 2024: African Championship (men's African qualification event). Date TBC.
  • 11-17 March 2024: IHF Men's Qualification Event. Venues TBC.
  • 8-14 April 2024: IHF Women's Qualification Event. Venues TBC.
  • 26 July – 11 August 2024: Olympic Games Paris 2024.

Find out more about the qualification system for other sports that will feature at Paris 2024.

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