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The Globe and Mail

Venezuela drops out of Olympic water polo qualifier against Canada

The road to the Olympics just got shorter for Canada's men's water polo team.

Venezuela withdrew from the qualification tournament for the 2012 London Games on Saturday, cancelling Canada's opening match with them on Sunday.

"There's no question that it's an unfortunate development and we're very disappointed that Venezuela is unable to participate," said Ahmed El-Awadi, executive director of Water Polo Canada in a statement. "But the schedule has been revised and we're ready to move ahead with what we fully expect will be an absolutely fantastic sporting event."

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The Canadians will now kick off the Olympic qualifier on Monday against Brazil.

Canada is in Group B with Turkey, Spain, Argentina and Brazil. Group A has an additional team with Montenegro, Germany, Greece, Macedonia, Romania and the Netherlands competing.

The top four teams in each group after round-robin play will advance to the quarter-finals on April 6. The winners of those matches will qualify for the Olympics.

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