Australia and Olympic Handball

Australia’s men’s and women’s teams have never qualified for the Olympic handball competition at an away Games. Both teams competed at Sydney 2000 by virtue of Australia being the host nation but were unable to win a match.

Olympic History


Handball was originally played on a soccer field with eleven players per side. It was contested by men at Berlin 1936 and Germany claimed the first gold medal. Handball then disappeared from the Olympic program after World War II and its popularity began to wane.

Across Europe the harsher climate, particularly in Scandinavia, led to the creation of a seven-a-side indoor handball format. Handball returned to the Olympic program in this form at Munich 1972 for men only. Four years later in Montreal a women’s competition was pioneered. Both events have remained on the Olympic program ever since.

Sport Format

Handball is a fast-paced game involving two teams of seven players who pass, throw, catch and dribble a small ball with their hands while trying to score goals. The team with the most goals win the game. A game consists of two 30-minute halves with a 10-minute half-time break.

The court for handball is 40 metres long and 20 metres wide. The goal area is D-shaped, arcing from the corners to a straight line six metres in front of the goal. The arcing sides similarly create a six-metre distance from the nearest part of the goal at all points. Players cannot be inside the arc when they have a shot at goal.

The men’s tournament at the Games features 12 teams and the women’s tournament has 10 teams at the Olympic Games.

Australian Handball Federation IHF