Indian hockey teams to compete in Birmingham Commonwealth Games: says CGF
Hockey India had earlier this year decided to withdraw its teams from the 2022 CWG, citing concern over short turnaround time between Birmingham Games and Hangzhou Asian Games, a qualifier for the 2024 Paris Olympics.
India has reversed its decision to pull out its hockey teams from next year's Birmingham Commonwealth Games and will compete in the multi-sport quadrennial event "if they qualify", a Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) official told PTI.
Hockey India had earlier this year decided to withdraw its teams from the 2022 CWG, citing COVID-19 related concerns and short turnaround time between Birmingham Games and Hangzhou Asian Games, a qualifier for the 2024 Paris Olympics.
India's decision to send its hockey team to 2022 CWG came after the intervention of Indian Olympic Association President Narinder Batra and Sports Minister Anurag Thakur, both of whom guaranteed the country's participation in CWG hockey events, provided they qualify. The Birmingham CWG is scheduled to be held from July 28 to August 8 next year while the Asian Games are starting on September 10.
"No team has been offered a place yet but the IOA have said to CGF President they (IOA) will accept if the teams qualify which is highly likely," the CGF official told PTI. "Indian Sports Minister has been involved I understand and he has been influential. The CGF President (Dame Louis Martin) has been in close dialogue with IOA President."
Asked if the development means Indian hockey teams will take part in the Birmingham Games, he said, "Yes, that would be correct, if they (the teams) qualify." Sports Minister Thakur had earlier criticized Hockey India's decision to pull out of the event without any consultation with his ministry.
The list of qualified nations for the hockey tournament at the Birmingham Games has not yet been announced and is set to be made official in February next year. The CGF official also said that discussions are on between CGF and IOA on the Queens Baton Relay, which is scheduled to be held in India between January 12 to 15 next year.
"They (CWGF President and IOA chief) have also been discussing the Queens Baton relay which visits India in January," he said. "...it's is on schedule to happen but very mindful of Cvoid so keeping a close watch on situation to ensure it can happen safely. It is the longest that the Baton will be in any country outside Great Britain as India is a key territory for the Commonwealth. So every effort is being made to ensure it happens. It will predominantly be in Delhi," the official added.
The Indian men's hockey team clinched a historic bronze at the Tokyo Games earlier this year -- their first Olympic hockey medal since winning their last of the eight gold in Moscow in 1980. The women's team, on the other hand, narrowly missed out on a first Olympic medal by losing 3-4 to Great Britain in the bronze play-off.