In tit for tat, Hockey India pulls out of Birmingham Commonwealth Games
Indian Hockey TeamFile photo

In tit for tat, Hockey India pulls out of Birmingham Commonwealth Games

New Delhi, October 5, 2021

It is tit for tat and retaliation was furious and fast.

Less than 24 hours after England decided to pull out of the Junior World Cup in Bhubaneswar, Hockey India on Tuesday announced that it will not send its team to the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games citing COVID-19 concerns and protesting UK's discriminatory quarantine rules.

The Indian men's and women's teams reached the medal rounds in the 2018 Gold Coast CWG but lost to England in the bronze play-offs. The men's team was beaten 1-2 while the women's team lost 0-6 to England.

The Birmingham CWG would have been the first big event for both the teams after their good showing at the Tokyo Games, where the men's team won bronze while the women finished fourth.

Hockey India president President Gyanandro Ningombam informed the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) about the decision.

In a letter to IOA president Narinder Batra, theHI chief said that there is only a 32-day window available between Birmingham Games (July 28-August 8) and the Hangzhou Asian Games (September 10-25) and it can't risk sending its players to the UK which has been one of the worst affected countries by the coronavirus pandemic.

"You will appreciate that the Asian Games is the Continental qualification event for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games and keeping the priority of the Asian Games in mind, Hockey India can not risk any members of the Indian teams contracting COVID-19 during the Commonwealth Games," Ningombam wrote.

The letter made it clear that HI can't risk sending its players to the United Kingdom (UK), which has been one of the worst affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

The UK has so far not recognised India's Covid-19 vaccination certificates and imposed a 10-day hard quarantine on travelers from the country even if they are fully vaccinated.

Pointing this out, Ningombam said, "Such discriminatory restrictions were not imposed on Indian athletes and officials during the recent Tokyo Olympic Games and this 10-day quarantine requirement for vaccinated sportspersons will affect their performance."

"We feel these restrictions are biased against India and term it as very unfortunate," he added.

Interestingly, Batra, who is also president of the Internation Hockey Federation (FIH), had earlier hinted that HI may not send the team for Commonwealth Games because Asian Games "are too crucial because the winner will qualify for the Paris Olympics."

Batra is also peeved with the Birmingham Organising committee, as they have refused to accord official status to the Shooting events which were earlier planned to be held in Chandigarh simultaneously with Commonwealth Games.

Meanwhile, the FIH is unhappy at England's pullout from the Junior World Cup, despite it asserting that foolproof COVID measures would be taken with HI and the local authorities. It has further said that the replacement team for England would be announced soon. England is the third side after Australia and New Zealand to pull out.

NNN

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