A day after England pulled out of the FIH junior hockey World Cup citing Covid-19 protocol issues, Hockey India announced the men’s and women’s teams’ withdrawal from next year’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. Hockey India has referred to Covid-19 concerns and UK’s quarantine rules for travellers from the country.
The decision was communicated to Indian Olympic Association president Narinder Batra by HI president Gyanendro Ningombam. The hockey governing body said that there is just a 32-day window between the CWG (July 28-August 8) and the Asian Games in Hangzhou (September 10-25).
“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 cannot risk any members of the Indian teams contracting Covid-19 during the Commonwealth Games,” Ningombam wrote in his letter.
“Therefore, Hockey India will not be sending its men’s and women’s teams to Commonwealth Games 2022 and informing you in advance to kindly notify the organisers to identify reserve teams,” he added.
With the qualification for the Olympics being a priority, HI had decided to send a second-string team for the CWG and now believe it is hazardous to send teams to the UK, one of the worst affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The UK government had earlier refused to accept the Covid-19 vaccination certificates from India and has insisted on a 10-day hard quarantine for travellers which they later withdrawn. It is likely that that sports ministry may intervene and persuade Hockey India to stick to their plan by sending a second-string team.