Hockey India has taken a huge call of withdrawing from the next year’s Commonwealth Games held in Birmingham citing COVID-19 reasons and the United Kingdom’s discriminatory quarantine rules for travellers.
Hockey India president Gyanandro Ningombam communicated the decision to the Indian Olympics Association (IOA) President Narinder Batra. The Indian Men’s Hockey team’s focus is solely on winning the Gold medal at the Asian Games and booking the berth for the Paris Olympics directly. So Hockey India gave a logical reason as they highlighted how there is only a 32-day window available between the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games which is scheduled on September 10 to 25 in Hangzhou, China.
Therefore the Hockey federation does not want to risk sending their players to one of the worst affected countries in the world. “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 problems started when the United Kingdom started rejecting India’s vaccines and forced the travellers to a mandatory 10-day quarantine even if they are fully vaccinated. Hockey India’s decision came as a reciprocation to the England team’s withdrawal from the FIH Men’s Junior World Cup to be held in Bhubaneswar next month. The England federation cited the alarming rate of COVID-19 cases and India’s strict quarantine rules for travellers from the United Kingdom.
India started imposing rules on Uk travellers as a reciprocation to the strict rules upheld by the UK government for Indian travellers. So mostly it is a decision taken as a retaliation of the COVID-19 rules imposed by both governments and hockey federations.
The Indian Men’s team saw the retirement of three experienced players in Rupinder Pal Singh, Birendra Lakra and SV Sunil. So it will allow the youngsters to shield the backline and guide India to the gold medal at the Hangzhou Asian Games next year. It will be a huge advantage for the Men in Blue if they can directly qualify for the Paris Olympics in 2024.