Monday, May 20, 2024

Commonwealth Games chiefs hopeful India hockey teams can still compete

Commonwealth Games chiefs are ‘confident’ of reversing India’s decision to withdraw from the 2022 Games in Birmingham.

Dame Louise Martin, the Commonwealth Games Federation president, has contacted Narinder Batra, the Indian Olympic Committee president and International Hockey Federation (FIH) president, as well as sports minister Anurag Thakur following last week’s announcement.

Hockey India pulled out of the Games a day after England’s decision not to travel to India for the men’s Junior World Cup. India chiefs cited “biased” Covid-related and quarantine issues – despite the competition taking place in Birmingham next July.

“We’ve been talking to all of the Commonwealth Games associations including India regularly,” Martin said. “On Covid and our preparations I think we’re in a really good place in relation to that.

“We’re confident we will engage with that team and take them through more detailed planning and how we can make sure that athletes can compete safely.”

On Sunday, Thakur said that Hockey India’s strongly-worded statement on pulling out of Birmingham 2022 was the wrong direction to take.

“I think any federation should refrain from giving such statements and discuss with the government first because its just not federation’s team, its national team,” he told Indian media.

“In a country of 130 crore population, there are not just 18 players to represent country. It is a global event I feel that they should engage with government and concerned department. The decision will be taken by the government.”

Games organisers have received nearly two million ticket applications so far and believe they are close to having capacity crowds at all venues.

Organisers say they are well on the way to having capacity crowds at all venues in what will be the first multi-sport event to have full stadia since the Covid-19 pandemic began.

Reid added that she was hopeful big names would also still compete at the 2022 Games.

“One of the things we are doing with athletics is making sure all of those countries understand there is the ability to compete in the vast majority of disciplines at the World Athletics Championships and the Commonwealth Games,” she said.

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