The Olympic Games are a number of sport competitions held every four years. They subdivise in two branches: Summer Olympics and Olympic Winter Games.
In terms of ice hockey, the Olympics are the hosts of a tournament involving the top hockey nations of the world. The 8 top-seeded teams in the IIHF's Ranking get instant access to the tournament; so does the hosting country. The other available spots are awarded to the eventual winners of the Olympic Qualification Tournament. For the 2010 Olympics, it will exceptionally be the top nine teams, as Canada is hosting the Games. Since that country is already qualified due to it being the host, and since Canada is an usual top 8 country, the IIHF decided that for that tournament, they will take the first nine instead.
The first ever Olympic ice hockey tournament took place during the 1920 Summer Olympics as a demonstration sport; it was moved to the more logical Winter Olympics in 1924. Women's hockey is also an Olympic discipline; it was however added much later, in 1998.
|Olympic Hockey Tournaments|
|1920 | 1924 | 1928 | 1932 | 1936 | 1948 | 1952 | 1956 | 1960 | 1964 | 1968 | 1972 | 1976 | 1980 | 1984 | 1988 | 1992 | 1994 | 1998 | 2002 | 2006 | 2010|