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Fake News Buster: Why is this India's first Olympic semifinal in 49 years and not 41?

The burning question is doing the rounds on social media and we analyse this intriguing stat regarding India's Hockey team

Fake News Buster: Why is this Indias first Olympic semifinal in 49 years and not 41?

C.C. Chengappa

Updated: 14 Nov 2021 10:20 AM GMT

There have been a lot of theories floating around the internet regarding the status of India's semi-final appearance. We at the Bridge will look into why exactly it is correct to see the truth for what it is. This is not to take away from India's victory but to tell you exactly why this victory is so special. It dates back to 49 years ago when India actually played in a proper semi-final at the 1972 Olympics. Contrary to popular belief, India did not play in a semi-final 41 years ago because the format of Hockey did not include a semi-final in the Olympics.

Moscow 1980

This in itself should give you an idea that half the countries would not attend the Moscow Olympics because of the place and time of the event. Russia during the Cold War was not a place that half the world wished to go merely because of political differences and a period of high tension and political turmoil. As a result, several countries boycotted the Olympics beginning with the USA who did so because of the Russian invasion of Afghanistan. Over 65 countries did not take part that year and this included hockey nations such as West Germany, Australia, Argentina, and several more. This resulted ina complete change in the format of Hockey.

Hockey Format

6 countries took part in the Men's field hockey event. Spain, India, Tanzania, Soviet Union, Poland and Cuba. 9 countries had pulled out of the event, and it became a 6-team tournament as a result. This automatically resulted in the tournament being a straightforward group stage and final format wherein the top 2 teams winning the group would automatically qualify for the finals.

India and Spain had topped the group stage in 1st and 2nd place respectively and this lead to them reaching the final. Soviet Union and Poland played out the third-place finish as they 3rd and 4th in the group stage.

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