In seven days, this city is scheduled to play host to hockey's biggest event, the World Cup. Perhaps. If the event management team is shut out of the stadium where the matches will be, then staging an event is going to be somewhat difficult.
On Saturday morning, about 20 people from the organising team, including two from the international hockey federation (the FIH), reached the Dhyan Chand National stadium for World Cup related work and were barred from entering by Sports Authority of India officials. They stood outside for three hours before being allowed in and were given no reason for it.
A Sports Ministry official told HT that while the incident did occur, it was because of security drills. “We were conducting security, fire and emergency drills and that is probably why no one was allowed in,” he said.
If that is the case, then here's the obvious question: Why was the team that is organising (or trying to organise) the event not told that police and fire authorities would be staging mock drills?
FIH communications manager Arjen Meijer said he wasn't there so he couldn't react but another organising official, unwilling to be named as he wasn't authorised to speak on the matter, said there was “an evident lack of co-ordination.”
The Dhyanchand Stadium is owned by the SAI. “SAI is overstepping,” an IOA official said. “But we're not sure what we can do about it, especially at this stage. We have to try and make sure the event happens. It's a question of hockey.”
But this is embarrassingly typical of how this World Cup is being staged. With the Sports Ministry (which controls the SAI) and the IOA (which controls sports federations for the most, and is part of the organising committee of the Cup) at loggerheads, everyone else is caught in between. As of Saturday night, for instance, there was still no clarity from anyone on when and how tickets for the event would reach the public. India play Pakistan on Feb 28, the opening day's prime time show.