The non-participation of Indian men and women hockey teams at the 2022 Commonwealth Games slated to be held Birmingham is surely a big blow to the organizers – after all, India is riding high after their first Olympic medal in 41 years and is a crowd-puller. The announcement made by Hockey India isn’t entirely surprising. It looks like a tit-for-tat action for England’s decision to opt out of the upcoming Junior World Cup to be held in Bhubaneshwar later this year.
The Indian hockey authorities has taken an official line that given the prevailing Covid-19 situation, players’ safety was of paramount importance and they don’t want to leave anything to chance as the Asian Games will be held a month later. The stakes are high for Asian Games where there is a continental berth up for grabs, which would enable us to seal a direct Olympic berth for the 2024 Paris Olympics. It also means that India do not have to go through the rigours of going through the Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
England have cried out of the Junior Men’s World Cup citing Covid-related concerns and the 10-day quarantine in place for UK nationals. “The Covid situation is a concern for all teams travelling across the globe. India’s pullout decision has been largely influenced by England’s move to withdraw from the Junior Men’s World Cup- The tournament has been already hit by the pullouts of Australia and New Zealand and England’s withdrawal is another big setback. No one is officially saying about it but the decision of Hockey India sounds justified. A message needs to be sent out loud and clear,” said a former hockey official on condition of anonymity.
This is the second time that the Indian men’s hockey team will not be part of the Commonwealth Games – they had earlier given the 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games a miss. The women’s team will be missing the Commonwealth Games after having played in all six editions, including the famous gold-winning performance in 2002.