A common refrain about Toronto 2015 has been: why should we care?

Well, other than it being a high level multi-sport competition at which some of the best athletes in the world are competing, it’s also a prime opportunity for Canadian athletes and teams to qualify for next summer’s Olympic Games in Rio.

TO2015 sport schedule | full list of athletes

One of the goals of the Olympic Games is to ensure that all continents are represented in all sports. So in addition to global qualification events, such as world championships, there are also continental qualification events. Canadian athletes are lucky enough to have several of those on home soil at the Pan Am Games.

Synchronized Swimming

RELATED: Synchro stars set to defend Pan Am titles

Karine Thomas and Jacqueline Simoneau.

Karine Thomas and Jacqueline Simoneau.

The Canadian duet of Karine Thomas and Jacqueline Simoneau can earn a ticket to Rio with a win on July 11. They’re in good position, with a healthy lead after the technical routine. Unlike past Pan Am Games, there is no Olympic team berth up for grabs because Brazil as the host nation has already been given the continental berth for the Americas. Canada will have to wait until a special qualification tournament next spring to earn a spot.

Diving

RELATED: Fab IV leads diving team to Toronto 2015

Jennifer Abel in action at the 2014 FINA World Series in Windsor (Photo: Vaughn Ridley/Diving Canada).

Jennifer Abel in action at the 2014 FINA World Series in Windsor (Photo: Vaughn Ridley/Diving Canada).

The winners of each of the men’s and women’s individual 3m springboard and 10m platform events earn Olympic berths for their country. If the Canadians come up short, they’ve got a couple more opportunities ahead, including the FINA World Championships which begin July 24 in Kazan, Russia and the FINA Diving World Cup early in 2016 in Rio.

Water Polo

RELATED: Pan Am teams – men | women

John Conway celebrates after scoring one of his three goals against Brazil at Pan Am Games on July 7, 2015.

John Conway celebrates after scoring one of his three goals against Brazil at Pan Am Games on July 7, 2015.

The winning men’s water polo team will get a spot in the Olympic tournament. The winning women’s team does not, as Brazil has been granted the continental berth for the Americas. But fear not. Teams who don’t qualify in Toronto have another opportunity at a qualification tournament in the spring.

Canoe/Kayak Slalom

RELATED: Four named to slalom team

Cameron Smedley at the Canoe Slalom National Team Trials May 23-24, 2015.

Cameron Smedley at the Canoe Slalom National Team Trials May 23-24, 2015.

The first Pan Am Games to feature canoe/kayak slalom will have the competition double as the continental qualifier. But this one is a little tricky. The ICF World Championships in September are the primary qualification event, so the Pan Am results will be used retroactively to calculate which countries have earned Olympic spots following the allocation of spots at the worlds. The Americas are guaranteed a representative in each of the men’s K-1, women’s K-1 and men’s C-1.

Equestrian

RELATED: Equine Canada names team to compete at home

Belinda Trussell with her horse Anton (Equine Canada).

Belinda Trussell with her horse Anton (Equine Canada).

Canada has already qualified an eventing team thanks to a sixth place finish at last year’s World Equestrian Games, so the pressure is on the other countries to win the gold medal and the Olympic berth. But Canada will be aiming to qualify a dressage team and a jumping team. It will take a team victory in dressage, while the top two teams in jumping will qualify their countries for Rio. There are also some individual berths available.

Field Hockey and Handball

RELATED: Pan Am field hockey | Handball

Canada captain Kate Gillis (Photo: Yan Huckendubler via Field Hockey Canada from Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games).

Canada captain Kate Gillis (Photo: Yan Huckendubler via Field Hockey Canada from Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games).

It’s simple in field hockey and handball: win and you’re in. The gold medallists in all of the men’s and women’s events will get to compete in Rio.

Modern Pentathlon

RELATED: Three Olympians on modern pentathlon team

Melanie McCann (left) and Joshua Riker-Fox.

Melanie McCann (left) and Joshua Riker-Fox.

There are a total of five Olympic spots available in each of the men’s and women’s events. One will go to an athlete from the NORCECA region (North America, Central America, Caribbean). One will go to an athlete from South America. And then there are three places available for all of the Americas.

Sailing

RELATED: Sail Canada names athletes for Pan Am Games

Nikola Girke competing at the 2014 Abu Dhabi World Cup (Photo: Sail Canada).

Nikola Girke competing at the 2014 Abu Dhabi World Cup (Photo: Sail Canada).

Canada has already qualified for Rio in the two events that have Olympic berths on the line for the winners, the Laser and Laser Radial.

Shooting

RELATED: Shooting Federation of Canada names Pan Am team

Monica Fyfe (Shooting Federation of Canada).

Monica Fyfe (Shooting Federation of Canada).

There are a plethora of Olympic berths waiting to be won. The winners of the men’s 50m rifle 3 positions, men’s 50m rifle prone, men’s 50m pistol, men’s 25m rapid fire pistol, men’s 10m air pistol, men’s double trap, women’s 25m pistol, women’s 10m air pistol, women’s trap and women’s skeet all earn spots for Rio, as do the top two finishers in the men’s 10m air rifle, men’s trap, men’s skeet, women’s 50m rifle 3 positions and women’s 10m air rifle.

Table Tennis

RELATED: Zhang to defend Pan Am title at home

Mo Zhang is the Guadalajara 2011 Pan Am Games women's singles table tennis champion (THOR/TTCAN).

Mo Zhang is the Guadalajara 2011 Pan Am Games women’s singles table tennis champion (THOR/TTCAN).

It’s another win and you’re in scenario for the gold medallists in the men’s and women’s singles events. Canada’s next chance to qualify will come at the North American continental qualification event in April.

Triathlon

RELATED: Olympians to lead Pan Am triathlon team 

Paula Findlay at the ITU World Triathlon Grand Final in Edmonton on August 30, 2014.

Paula Findlay at the ITU World Triathlon Grand Final in Edmonton on August 30, 2014.

Once again, an Olympic spot will go to the winners of the men’s and women’s events. After that, the Canadians will be relying on getting in based on a world ranking.