Each of the continental champions received a berth alongside the host, Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales compete separately in most competitions, but send a combined team to the Olympics and selected friendly tournaments, which is managed by England Hockey), while another three spots were decided in qualifying tournaments.
The Riverbank Arena hosted the field hockey tournaments.
For the men's tournament, Europe received two extra quota places, and Oceania one extra. While for the women's, Asia, Oceania and Europe each received one extra quota place. All were based on FIH world rankings.
However, South Africa as African champion for both tournaments gave up the automatic berth on the premise that they should play a qualifier having deemed the African tournament as sub-standard even though they won the African qualifier tournament. Instead they played in the men's and women's Olympic qualification tournament and made the cut. Their automatic berth was awarded to Spain in the men's tournament and Argentina in the women's.