Paris (AFP)

The French handball players, European champions in 2018, will face Russia, the reigning Olympic champion, in the first round of the Olympic tournament in Tokyo (23 July-8 August), according to the draw made Thursday morning in Basel at the headquarters of the International Federation (IHF).

Siraba Dembélé's teammates, silver medalists at Euro-2020 in December in Denmark, find themselves in a dense group with Russia, Spain, Sweden, Hungary and Brazil, in which they will have to take the 'one of the first four places to go to the quarter-finals.

French and Russians met in the final of the Rio Olympics in August 2016, won by the Russians.

The revenge took place two and a half years later, and the French won, to win at Paris-Bercy a first continental title synonymous with qualification for the Olympics-2020.

French and Russians had also met in the main round of Euro-2020 and had separated on a score of parity.

In Tokyo, the French will try to win Olympic gold, the only title missing from their charts (2003 and 2017 world champions, 2018 European champions).

The other group of this first phase seems more unbalanced.

The Norwegians, European champions 2020, and the Dutch, world champions 2019, will be favorites for the first two places.

The quarter-finals are scheduled for Wednesday August 4, the semi-finals on Friday August 6 and the final and the match for 3rd place will be played on Sunday August 8, the day of the closing ceremony.


Composition of groups

Group A: Netherlands, Montenegro, Norway, Japan, South Korea, Angola

Group B: Spain, Russia *, Hungary, Sweden, France, Brazil


1st round of the French

(times will be specified later)

Sunday July 25

Hungary - France

Tuesday July 27

France - Spain

Thursday July 29

Sweden - France

Saturday July 31

Russia * - France

Monday August 2

France - Brazil

*: Russia is suspended by the World Anti-Doping Agency for the Olympic Games in Tokyo, due to repeated anti-doping rule violations.

Russian handball players are authorized to participate in the Games, under a neutral banner and without the name "Russia", on condition of showing a white paw.

The name of the team will be "Russian Olympic Committee Team".

© 2021 AFP